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Full text of "The early history of the town of Birr, or Parsonstown : with the particulars of remarkable events there in more recent times, also the towns of Nenagh, Roscrea, Banagher, Tullamore, Philipstown, Frankford, Shinrone, Kinnetty and Ballyboy and the ancient septs, princes, and celebrated places of the surrounding country"

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Amicwt Plato, amicw Socrates, sed magis amicus Feritas 






PAGE 34, line 17, for " Frankfort," read " Franckfort." 





" part," 









" bawn." 





" Clare," 


" Clere." 








"Ruts- Ore." 






















" Primwdia" 


" Primordial." 




" Hibernicon" 


" Hibernicum." 












" Tir-da-fflair," 


" Tir-da-fflais." 


IT is with diffidence I introduce this work to the 
public. The people of Birr and the neighbourhood 
are aware that neither my father, the late Thomas 
Lalor Cooke, by whom the materials were collected, 
nor I, who arranged and put these materials in their 
present form, could devote much of our time to such 
an occupation. In consequence of this, and my father's 
long illness and death, there has been delay in the 
publication ; and it cannot be expected that even now 
this book could be as perfect in style and finish as if 
it were the production of an experienced author, whose 
entire time was passed in literary pursuits. 

If deficient in some respects, it is hoped, however, 
the following pages will be found truthful, and to 
contain nothing of importance for which there is not 
an authority. The authorities referred to will, it is 
also expected, be found such as should be accessible 
to most of those likely to read these pages ; and, at all 


events, care has been taken to avoid, as far as possible, 
reference to authors whose works might be difficult of 
access by ordinary readers. Hence it is, the Annals 
of the Four Masters have been so frequently quoted, 
and generally not farther back than the English 
Invasion, while, for greater simplicity, the authorities 
are mentioned in the text. In fine, this book is in- 
tended to give the people of Birr and the neighbouring 
towns and surrounding country, a general knowledge 
of the early history of this part of Ireland, with the 
particulars of remarkable circumstances connected with 
it, and is not put forward as a bewildering display of 
antiquarian knowledge and profound research. This 
object, and a strict observance of the motto on the title 
page, by a careful regard for truth ; with the possibility 
that, perhaps, the attempt to bring to more particular 
notice this part of Ireland, may lead to similar 
exertions being made as respects other portions of the 
country; these are the only merits claimed for this 

As I have said, there has been considerable delay 
with the publication, and changes have, in consequence, 
taken place while it was in progress. Thus, several 
most respected subscribers have passed away in the 
meantime, some from amongst those who had long 
since given their names to my late father, while others 


of them had favoured myself more recently. The 
names of the subscribers thus given myself are now 
published, but having been unable to find my father's 
original list, I can only mention the circumstance, and 
claim the indulgence of such subscribers as may 
find their names omitted. Amongst the subscribers ' 
who have died are, The Most Eev. Dr. Leahy, the 
beloved Eoman Catholic Archbishop of Cashel ; the 
upright judge, Lord Chief Baron Pigot ; Major- 
General the Et. Hon. F. P. Dunne, the worthy head 
of the O'Dunns (p. 264), an illustrious Irish race ; 
Col. the Hon. J. C. Westenra, my father's early friend ; 
and the talented, generous, and universally-respected 
Major Knox, of the Irish Times. Since the death of 
Col. "Westenra, Sharavogue (p. 186) has been the seat 
of Lord Hastings, his son-in-law. While this work 
was in progress, two Earls of Charleville have likewise 
died, and, as the Bury family is referred to (p. 261) 
in connexion with the town of Tullamore, I may be 
excused for bearing rny humble testimony here to the 
sorrow for the loss of the deceased, and respect for 
their memories, felt by those who knew them best the 
people of Tullamore and the neighbourhood. 

Other changes have also taken % place during this 
time. The Crimean Gun, stated (p. 125) to have been 
presented to the town of Birr (the date shoulcf be 18 ~>fc' 


and not 1848) and which was then placed by the Town 
Commissioners in the demesne of the late Earl of 
Eosse, now stands on John's Mall in the town, on the 
very spot where my late father proposed to place it. 
For this act of justice, the people of Birr are indebted 
to the present Earl of Eosse, and, of course, the 
observations in this work as to the gun not being 
in the town, have ceased to be applicable. The 
remarkable disappearance of a river at the Eape Mills, 
a few miles from Birr, is also referred to (p. 313), 
and the reader is invited to visit the place. Late 
improvements, however, in the way of drainage, have 
left nothing of interest to be seen there. 

la addition to the history of the town of Birr, 
much of which was included in my father's Picture of 
Parsonstown, published some fifty years since, the 
present work gives the early histories of most of the 
towns and remarkable places in the country around 
Birr, bounded by the river Shannon on one side, and 
taking in a circuit extending to some twenty miles or 
more from Birr on the other sides. This, of course, 
includes the greater part of the King's County, with 
the northern portion of the County Tipperary. It is 
not pretended that every place of interest within this 
extent of country is treated on in the following pages, 
or even that the full history of every place alluded to 


is given, for present circumstances would not permit 
this being done. The most remarkable places have 
been generally mentioned, however, and the most 
interesting circumstances connected with these places 
have been selected, and if at any time the publication 
of an enlarged edition should seem desirable, the 
materials will not be wanting. 

Those who take an interest in the subject will 
probably read through the following pages, as each 
portion is more or less connected with the rest. If, 
however, any person merely desires to refer to some 
particular place or circumstance, a glance at the 
" Contents " will, it is hoped, enable him to judge as 
to where he may be likely to find what is required. 
The first eight chapters, comprising the " History of 
Birr," follow each other in chronological order, and 
the reader is informed to what period each chapter 
relates. The " Contents " will likewise show what 
particular district may be the chief subject of each 
subsequent chapter, and on turning to any of these, 
attention is generally further directed by the heading 
of the page, to any particular place or circumstance of 
importance. In like manner, the " Contents " will 
show what is contained in the Appendix, and the page 
at which each part is to be found. The names of the 
inhabitants of the different towns in 1823, as given in 


this Appendix, are taken from Pigot fy Company- } s 
Directory , published in 1824. 

In conclusion, I may state that any merits to be 
found in this work are the result of my late father's 
knowledge, accuracy, and research, while its defects 
may be attributed to deficiencies on my part. 


BIRR, August 1875. 


His Grace the Duke of Abercorn, K.G., Lord Lieutenant of 
Ireland, &c., &c. 

His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin. 

His Eminence Cardinal Cullen, E. 0. Archbishop of Dublin. 

His Eminence Cardinal Manning, E. C. Archbishop of West- 

His Grace the late Most Eev. Dr. Leahy, E. C. Archbishop of 

Eight Hon. John Thomas Ball, Lord Chancellor of Ireland. 

His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, K.G. 

His Grace the Duke of Leinster. 

Marquis of Kildare. 

Eight Hon. Earl Spencer, K.G. 

Eight Hon. the Earl of Westmeath. 

Eight Hon. the Earl of Portarlington. 

Lord Hastings. 

Eight Eev. the Bishop of Meath. 

Eight Eev. the E. C. Bishop of Killaloe. 

Eight Hon. Lord Talbot de Malahide. 

Eight Hon. Lord O'Hagaii. 

Eight Hon. Lord Carlingibrd. 

The late Eight Hon. Lord Chief Baron Pigot. 

Eight Hon. William F. Cogan,' M.P. 

Eight Hon. Lord Chief Baron Palles. 

Major-General the late Eight Hon. F. P. Dunne. 

Colonel the late Hon. John C. Westenra, D.L. 

Sir William H. Beecher, Bart. 

Sir Arthur E. Guinness, Bart., M.P. 

Sir Francis W. Brady, Bart. 

Sir Bernard Burke, C.B., LL.D., Ulster King of Arms. 

Sir Eichard J. T. Orpen, President of the Law Society. 

Count O'Byrne. 

Colonel Thomas Bernard, Lieutenant of the King's County. 

Very Eev. Humphrey Lloyd, D.D., Provost of Trinity College, 

Very Eev. Dr. Eussell, President of Maynooth College. 

Very Eev. Charles Vignoles, D.D., Dean of Ossory. 

Mr. Sergeant Armstrong. 

Mr. Sergeant Sherlock, M.P. 




Abbess, the Very Eev., Birr 

Armstrong, Captain C. J., J.P., 

Mount Carteret, Banagher. 
Armstrong, J. P., Esq., J.P., 

Claremont, Banagher. 
Armstrong, W. B., Esq., Bal- 

Iver, Cloghan. 
'Atkinson, Mrs. Anne M., Can- 

gort, Shinrone. 

Acres, Mr. G., Ballyinn, Lismore. 
Arnold, Mr. M., Birr. 


Bennett, F.V., Esq., D.L., Bray. 
Bugler, Very Eev. M., P.P.,Y.G., 

Beauman, Mr. A., C.P.S., Kin- 


Bermingham, Mr. D., Eoscrea. 
Brereton, Jas., Esq., California. 
Brereton, Mr. J., Crinkle, Birr. 
Burke, Mr. Patrick, Galros. 


Collis, Eev. M. A. Cooke, D.D., 
Castle Cooke. 

Curran, H. G., Esq., E.M., Birr. 

Coppinger, J. W., Esq., Solici- 
tor, Dublin. 
Crowe, Eev. P., C.C., Eoscrea. 

Connolly, Mr. James, Birr. 

Conway, Mr. James, Birr. 

Cooney, Mr. Patrick, Frankford. 

Corcoran, Mr. J., Streamstown, 

Corcoran, Mr. Wm., Eoscrea. 

Coghlan, Mr. P., E.I.C., Kil- 

Comerford, Mr. William, New 


Darby, W. H., Esq., Leap Castle. 
Davis, Eev. J. A., A.B., Kil- 

Dunne, Major E., Brittas, Clon- 


Dunne, Charles, Esq. 
Dowling, W. D., Esq., Solicitor, 

Dwyer, J. D., Esq., Ballyquirk 

Donnelly, Mr. P., Cadamstown. 


Eyre, Capt. J., J.P., Eyrecourt 

Evans, J., Esq., Ballyrickard, 


Edwards, Mr. Joseph, Birr. 
Egan, Mr.W.,Eockfort, Clough- 

Egan, Mr. Michael, Birr. 


Fayle, Wm. K., Esq., Birr. 
Foy, Mr. J. M., Athlone. 
Franks, A. W., Esq., British 

Fraser, Capt. T. L., Adlington, 

Fraser, T. J., Esq., Hazelfort, 

Fahy, Mr. John, Banagher. 


Gill, P. E., Esq., Proprietor Tip- 

perary Advocate, Nenagh. 
Graves, Eev. J., D.D., Hon. 

Sec. H. and A. Association of 

Graves, Major W. Grogan, 82nd 


Grome, J. P., Esq., J.P., Birr. 
Grogan, Mr. Patrick, Killyon. 




Halpin, Rev. T. J., Upper Gar- 
diner Street, Dublin. 

Hanna, William, Esq., Down- 

Hayman, Eev. S.,M.A., Grange 
Erin, Cork. 

Head, W. H., Esq., J.P., Derry- 
la luui Park. 

Heron, D. C., Esq., Q.C., Upper 
Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin. 

Hutchinson, J. F., Esq., Dun- 
gar, Eoscrea. 

Heaton, Mr. Wm., late E.I.C., 

Heaton, Mr. George, Eathkeale. 

Hernan, Mr. Andrew, Birr. 

Hogan, Mr. John, Lismore. 

Horan, Mr. M., Inland Eevenue. 


James, Eev. A. B., M.A., Agh- 


Kennedy, Very Eev. Plj, P.P., 

V.G., Eoscrea. 
King, J. G., Esq., D.L., Bally- 

lin, Ferbane. 

Kingston, Eev. J., C.C., Lorha. 
Knox, Major L. E., D.L., Fitz- 

william Square, Dublin. 
Knox, Venerable Archdeacon, 


Kelly, Mr. Thomas, T.C., Birr. 
Kelly, Mr. Eichard, Birr. 
Kennedy, Mr. M. D., Birr. 


Lalor, T. Esq., D.L., Gregg, 

Lloyd, J., Esq., D.L., Gloster, 


Marshall, Mrs., Baronne Court, 

M'Causland, Eev. M., M.A., 

Morris, Wm. O'Connor, Esq., 

J.P., Eutland Square, Dublin. 
MacEgan, D. J., Esq., Solicitor, 


Morgan, Eev. J., D.D., Lismore. 
Molloy, Constantino, Esq., Bar- 

rister-at-Law, Tullamore. 
Madden, Eev. J., P.P., Lusmagh. 
Mitchell, A., Esq., Solicitor, 

Walcot, Birr. 
Maunsell, H. J., Esq., Clonlisk 

House, Eoscrea. 
Molloy, D., Esq., Sec. G. S. and 

W. Eailway, Dublin. 
Mathews, Mr. Stephen, T.C., 


Magee, Mr. John, Birr. 
Maher, Mr. N., Birr. 
Marks, Mr. Wm., Birr. 
Molloy, Mr. T., C.P.S., Killyon. 
Moran, Mr. Michael, Birr. 
Mullins, Mr. John, Lismore. 
Murray, Mr. John, Lismore. 


Norris, W. J., Esq., D.C.P., 


O'Brien, Eev. C., P.P., Lorha. 
O'Callaghan, Miss, Frankford. 
O'Kelly, Wm. P., Esq., J.P., 

Gurtray, Ballinasloe. 
O'Meara, Wm., Esq., J.P., Birr. 
0' Carroll, Mr. Daniel, Tullamore. 
O'Carroll, Mr. Martin, Athlone. 


Peacey, W. M., Esq., Banagher. 



-Phelan, Eev. Thomas, O.C., 

Pirn, Jonathan, Esq., William 

Street, Dublin. 
Poe, GL P., Esq., Cloughmoyle, 



Quigley, Mr. Mark, Birr. 


Rolleston, J. F., Esq., D.L., 
Franckfort Castle, Dunkerrin. 

Eidley, Mr. Win., West Meri- 
den, United States. 


Scott, Eev. J. H., M.A., Seir 

Kyran, Birr. 
Stoney, Thomas B., Esq., J.P., 

Ston,ey, Mrs., Leixlip. 

Scroope, H., Esq., Ballystanly, 


Sheridan, Mr. Patrick, Birr. 
Smyth, Mr. Eobert, Tullamore. 
"""** Stanley, Mr. Thomas, Tullamore. 

Sweeney, Mr. John, Crinkle, 



Tibbs, Eev. P. G., M. A., Birr. 
Toohey, Eev. J., P.P., Shinrone. 


Usher, J. F., Esq., M.D., Bal- 
larat, Australia. 

Yignoles, Eev. 0., M.A., Burn- 
church, Bennettsbridge. 
Vaughan, Mr. Patrick, Birr. 


Waldron, Laurence, Esq., D.L., 
Bally brack. 

Walker, J. J., Esq., J.P., Bel- 
field, Shinrone. 

Waller, G-. A., Esq., Prior Park, 

Wetherelt, Eev. F. W., M.A., 
Eathmolyon, Enfield. 

Wilson, Mr. J., E.I.C., Lismore. 


CHAPTER I., p. 1. 


Situation of Birr, and derivation of the name. The Abhan 
Chara river. Antiquity of Birr. Ely O'Carroll, and its 
princes. Birr in ancient Minister. The people of Birr 
brought into notice, A.D. 212. Birr known as "Umbilicus 
Hiberniee." Sun-worship near Birr. 

CHAPTER II., p. 10. 


Saint Brendan "Brendanus Biorra" one of the "Twelve 
Apostles of Erin." Probable visit of St. Patrick to Birr. 
A battle there. Alleged ascension to heaven of St. Brendan. 
His successors. The "Codex Rusworthianus." Royal 
meeting at Birr. The town plundered several times. An- 
other battle there. The troops of Ely O'Carroll, at the 
Battle of Clontarf. O'Connor, King of Ireland, encamped 
near Birr. The King of Cathluighe killed at the church 
door. The town burned. The " Synod of Birr," A.D. 1 170. 

CHAPTER III., p. 20. 

O'CARKOLL, A.D. 1619. 

King Henry II. bestows O'Carroll's country, including Birr, 
on Philip de Worcester and Theobald Fitzwalter. The 
latter grants Birr to the " Baron of Galtrim." The castle 
of "Byrre" besieged, and the town burned, by Murtagh 
O'Byran, A.D. 1207. The O'CarroUs. The Earl of Kildare 
wounded at the siege of Birr Castle, in 1532. Death of 
Maoboona O'Carroll. Treaty between Ferganainm O'Carroll 
and King Henry VIII. The English expelled from Ely 
O'Carroll. The King's and Queen's Counties formed. >ir 
William "O'Kerroll" surrenders Ely O'Carroll to Queen 
Elizabeth. Calvagh O'Carroll attends her Irish Parliament. 
Ely O'Carroll as described by John Dimmock. 

xviii CONTENTS. 

CHAPTEE IV., p. 35. 

PARSONS, A.D. 1628. 

The " Plantation." Sir Laurence Parsons and the other " Un- 
dertakers." Sir Laurence gets possession of Birr. Estab- 
lishes a market and fairs there. Prices of provisions, work, 
and materials, in Birr in 1620. O'CarroU petitions to be 
reinstated in Birr. Sir Laurence makes leases there. The 
" Glass works," and " Black Castle ;" with particulars as to 
Birr at this period. Sir Laurence makes some curious 
ordinances. Regulations for burials. Tolls payable. The 
old gaol. Extent of Birr in 1 628.' 

CHAPTER V., p. 52. 


Mr. William Parsons appointed Governor of Ely O'CarroIl and 
Birr Castle. Birr in the war of 1641. The Irish attack 
Clonoghil and Ballindara Castles, near Birr. Letters from 
Phelim Molloy to Governor Parsons, and from Colonel 
Moore to Lady Parsons. Birr garrison put on the Govern- 
ment establishment. The castle besieged by the Irish, and 
relieved by Sir Charles Coote. Birr in 1643. The castle 
attacked by General Preston. Summons to surrender, and 
the Governor's reply. Forced to capitulate. Lord Castle- 
haven describes what then occurred. The Confederate 
Catholics in possession of Birr. Substance of their oath. 
O'Neill makes an attempt on Birr, but General Preston 
raises the siege. Birr taken from the Irish by General 
Ireton. Retaken by the Marquis of Clanricarde, who is 
forced by Colonel Axtell to retire again. 

CHAPTER YL, p. 66. 


Bequest by Mr. William Parsons, for support of an Almshouse 
in Birr. His son Laurence created a Baronet. Curious 
genealogical entry. Tradesmen's tokens struck in Birr. 
The "Borough of Byrr" returns two members to Parlia- 
ment. Trade of "the Byrre " in 1682. Raparees in the 


neighbourhood. Birr Castle besieged by Colonel Grace and 
Captain Oxburgh. Terms of capitulation agreed upon. Sir 
Laurence Parsons, Mr. Jonathan Darby, and others, arrested. 
Convicted of high treason, and sentenced to be hanged, 
drawn, and quartered. The Protestant clergyman quits 
Birr, and the glebe and tythes are set to the Eomau Catholic 
priest. "Reconcilement" of Birr Church. Sarsfield in 
Birr. Colonel Oxburgh, Provost Marshall of the King's 
County. A gallows erected in Birr. Sir Laurence Parsons 
confined in the old gaol there. The fate of Oxburgh and 
his family. Sir Laurence liberated. From Birr to Dublin, 
four days journey. Commissioners of Array for the King's 
County. Birr Castle attacked in 1690, by Colonel Sarsfield 
with 10,000 men. Incidents of the siege. The besiegers 
retire, and General Douglas relieves the place. Birr fortified. 
Lord Lisburn. Misconduct of King William's army in 
Birr, and destruction of property there. Skirmishes between 
the garrisons of Birr and Banagher. Death of Sir Laurence 
Parsons. His successors. 

CHAPTEE VII., p. 89. 

TEAR 1800. 

Cumberland Pillar erected in Birr. A Freemason's Lodge estab- 
lished. The King's County Volunteer Corps, under General 
Sir William Parsons. Meeting at Birr of Delegates from 
several Volunteer Corps. Resolutions passed by them. The 
Volunteers reviewed at Woodfield, near Birr. Great flood 
in the Birr river. First Quarter Sessions held at Birr. State 
of Birr in 1 798. Sir Laurence Parsons of that time denounced 
as a rebel. A vote of censure on him, proposed in the Grand 
Jury at Birr Quarter Sessions. A petition to Government 
against Sir Laurence, set on foot by the Protestants of Birr. 
Signed by Peter Singen, the Birr bellman, as "Lord 
Maxwell." Sir Laurence stopped by the Yeomanry at the 
Five Alley, on his way to Dublin. Charles Slavin tried in 
the Market-house, and strangled at the old gaol of Birr. 
Sergeant Morressy, of the Dunkerrin Yeomen, also tried 
there, and shot at " the Harrow," near Birr. Thomas 
Doolan murdered at Boveen. Several persons flogged at 
Birr. A meeting of magistrates and other freeholders held 
there in the year 1800, to petition against the Union, dis- 
persed by military force. Sir Laurence Parsons brings the 
subject before the Irish Parliament. 


CHAPTEE VIII., p. 101.' 


Mr. Thomas C. Parsons, brother to Sir Laurence, appointed 
Assistant Barrister for the King's County. Great Pro- 
testant meeting at Birr, against the Roman Catholic claims 
for religious equality. Messrs. O'Connor, Armstrong, and 
Warburton, with Colonel 0' Moore, oppose the proceedings. 
Birr Protestant Church built in 1815. Oxmantown Bridge 
erected in 1817. Meaning of the name Oxmantown. The 
Roman Catholic Church of Birr commenced in 1817. The 
first stone laid. Remarkable circumstances connected with 
Roman Catholic affairs in Birr. The "Siege of Birr," or 
"Birr Rebellion." Wesley Chapel erected in 1820. Strange 
proceedings at Birr Quarter Sessions in 1822. Names of 
about sixty magistrates then present. Death of Mr. Thomas 
Clere Parsons. Imposing ceremony of laying the first stone 
of a cenotaph to his memory. Fate of the Parsons testi- 
monial of 1827. The office of Sessional Crown Prosecutor 
in Ireland, originates in Birr. Another curious scene at 
Birr Quarter Sessions. First telegram of a public nature 
sent from Birr. Presentation of a Crimean gun to the 
inhabitants in 1858. Appeal on behalf of the ancient name 

CHAPTER YIII., p. 128. 

Roscrea. Its ancient names. St. Cronan. Carrick Hill, and 
cTefeat of the Danes. Their flight from Roscrea. The 
" Glass Kennic," or " Chain of Canice." Roscrea burned 
and plundered several times. Castles built there. Its 
Abbey and Abbots. Round tower. The ancient Franciscan 
Friary, and new Roman Catholic -Church. The "Roscrea 
Blues," and Roscrea Southern Star. Monaincha Abbey. 
The Culdees, or "Sons of Life." 

CHAPTER IX., p. 149. 

Kinnitty, and St. Ita. The Abbey and Abbots of Cinneity. The 
" Mountain Rangers." Castle Bernard. Ancient cross and 
stone figure. Drumcullen ; St. Barrind ; and Knockbarron, 


" the Hill of Barrind." Sleibli Bloom Mountains, and Ard- 
na-Erin. The " Capeall-ban," or White Horse. The son 
of Desmond on Sleibh Bloom. Hugh O'Neill, and 
"O'Neill's Well." MacGillaphadric and King Henry VIII. 
The Delagais. Cadamstown, formerly Bally-mac-Adam. 
Kilcoleman, the ancient Daire-More. 

CHAPTEE X., p. 166. 

Seir Kyran and St. Kyran the Elder. His successors. A bishop 
engaged in single combat. Plate presented to Saiger 
Church by Queen Mary. Curious Hound Tower. Conse- 
crated fires. Chichideus killed by wolves near Seir Kyran. 
Breaghmore, the " Great Wolf." St. Kyran's Bell. Killyon. 
The first nunnery in Ireland founded there by St. Kyran. 
Ancient cooking hearth. The " Fenians," and their mode 
of cooking. Clonbrone, the fasting place of St Canice, suc- 
cessor of St. Kyran. 

CHAPTEE XI., p. 186. 
Shinrone, and the marching of the " Green Boys " on it, in 1828. 

CHAPTEE XII., p. 209. 

Kilcommon and Brusna. Leap, Clonlisk, and Dunkerrin or 
Franckfort, Castles. 

CHAPTEE XUL, p. 226. 

Fearcall, the O'Molloy's country ; including Frankford and 
Ballyboy, Broghall, Derrydohiy, Killtubrid, Eath, Dowris, 
&c. The " Dowris Bronzes." 

CHAPTEE XIV., p. 247. 

The O'Conors Failge, and Offaley; including Monasteroris, 
Killeigh, Killoughy, &c. The towns of Philipstown and 
Tullamore. The O'Dunns or O'Duinns, chiefs of Hy Eegan. 

CHAPTEE XV., p. 269. 


From Birr to Lorha in Lower Ormond ; including Bailindarragh 
Castle ; Knocksheegowna Hill ; Barronne Court ; a re- 
'^, and the " Father of the Irish 



CHAPTER XVI., p. 279. 

Lorha or Lothra, St. Ruadhan, and the cursing of Tara. "The 
Ferry," and neighbourhood. Tirdaglass f now Terryglass. 

"IgansT Irish" BieEbns and 

The O'Kennedy's and Mac Egans 
Brehonism. The CFMearas and Toomavara.- 

CHAPTER XVII., p. 295. 

Nenagh, the capital of Lower Ormond ; Theobald Walter, 
~*Chief Butler" of Ireland; "Nenagh Round," and Tea- 
cheon or St. John's House. The Irish " Mac " and " 0." 

CHAPTER XVIII., p. 308. 

The Mac Cpghlan^g. and Dealbhna Eathra. Thomas Coghlan, 
Esq., ^"TheMaw." From Birr to Banagher, including 
the "Ridge," and " Rapemills ; " Ballaghanoher and' 
Q-arrycastle. The Town of Banagher. 

CHAPTER XIX., p. 328. 

Mac Coghlan's "Fair Castles." Cloghan in Delvin. Clonoony 
Castle, and the tomb of the Bullyns. Their connexion with 
the families of Lestrange, Atkinson, and Parsons. Castles 
of Moystown, Fadden, &c. Shannon Harbour. Ferbane. 
Gallen Monastery, and the Abbeys of Grlynn, Killegally, &c. 
Lemanaghan, and the " Shrine of St. Manchan." 

CHAPTER XX., p. 345. 

Lusmagh, part of ancient Siol Anmcha. O'Huallachain and 
O'Madagain, chiefs of Siol Anmcha. Eoghan O'Madden, 
the "Lion of Birra." Cloghan Castle, formerly "Cloghan 
O'Madden." The O'Moores, or Moore_s. 

CHAPTER XXL, p. 356. 

Clonmacnoise, and St. Kieran "The Younger." The Bishops 
and learned men of Clonmacnoise, and remarkable events 
connected with the place. Its round towers and ecclesias- 
tical buildings, including the " Church of the Nuns." Der- 
vorgail ; the English invasion ; and the "Song of O'Ruark." 


No. 1, p. 380. 
Surrender of Ely O'Carroll, in 1576. 

No. 2, p. 382. 
Ely O'Carroll, as described by Dimmock, about 1600. 

No. 3, p. 383. 

iNames of the "Undertakers" who obtained grants of land, in 
1619, on the "Plantation" of Ely O'Carroll, and the County 
sL. of Longford ; with the quantity allotted to each. 

No. 4, p. 384. 

Names of the Birr tenants who took leases from Sir Laurence 
Parsons in 1620. From a Rental in the handwriting of 
Sir Laurence. 

No. 5, p. 385. 

Ordinance by Sir Laurence Parsons, for the Paving and Cleaning 
of Birr, in the year 1626. 

No. 6, p. 386. 

Ordinance for the regulation of Drinking- houses, &c., in Birr, 
in the year 1626. 

No. 7, p. 387. 
Ordinance for the erection of chimneys in Birr, in the year 1627. 

No. 8, p. 388. 

Articles entered into on the surrender of Birr Castle, the 20th of 
January, 1642 (old style). 

No. 9, p. 391. 

Articles entered into on the surrender of Birr Caatle, the 20th 
of February, 1688 (old style). 


No. 11, p. 393. 

; Names of those whose property in and about Birr was destroyed 
in the war of 1690. 


No. 12, p. 395. 

Names of the magistrates assembled at Birr Quarter Sessions, 
the 10th of October 1822. 

No. 13, p. 396. 

Letters from the late Sergeant Howley, as to the origin of the office 
of Sessional Crown Prosecutor in Ireland ; and the amend- 
ment of the Civil Bill Act. 

No. 14, p. 398. 

Names of the principal inhabitants of Birr and neighbourhood, 
I in the year 1823. 

No. 15, p. 401. 

1 Names of the principal inhabitants of Eoscrea and neighbour- 
L. hood, in the year 1823. 

No. 16, p. 405. 

Names of the principal inhabitants of Frankford and neighbour- 
hood, in the year 1823. 

No. 17, p. 406. 

Names of the principal inhabitants of Philipstown and neigh- 
bourhood, in the year 1823. 

No. 18, p. 407. 

Names of the principal inhabitants of Tullamore and neighbour- 
hood, in the year 1823. 

No. 19, p. 410. 

Names of the principal inhabitants of Nenagh and neighbour- 
hood, in the year 1823. 

No. 20, p. 414. 

Names of the principal inhabitants of Banagher and neighbour- 
hood, in the year 1823. 





THE Town of Birr in later days also called Parsons- 
town is situate on the Comcor River, in the parish 
of Birr, barony of_Ballybritt, and King's County. 
Birr is about 62 miles west-south-west from Dublin, 
in latitude 53 6' north, and longitude 7 54' west 
from Greenwich. The base of the pillar in Cumber- 
land Square nearly the centre of the town is 182 
feet over the level of the sea. 

The river, flowing through Birr, although called 
Comcor on the old leases, is named Chamchord in the 
Down Survey Map of Ballybritt Barony, made in 
1657, which name is probably derived from cam, 
crooked, and cora, a weir. It was also known as 
Slewmore River, meaning the river from the great 
mountain. In describing the boundaries of ancient 
Meath, Keating says that the boundaries run from 
Geashill to Drumchuillin ; and to " the river called 
Abhau Chara," and thence, by the Shannon, to 



Athlone, &c. The appellation, Abhan Chara, signi- 
fies the meandering, or the terrible river ; and there 
is no doubt but this river running by Drumcullen, and 
thence by Birr, is the river called the Slewmore, the 
Comcor, and the Chamchord river. It is remarkable, 
that in the old leases, part of the town of Birr on the 
river-bank, is called Lough-Cara, which signifies the 
terrible lake. These different appellations given to 
the Birr river, have probably originated from this 
river rising in the great Slievebloom Mountains, run- 
ning thence a very crooked or meandering course, and 
being, as it is even at the present day, liable to be 
greatly increased, at times, by the united waters of the 
many mountain streams which flow into it, between 
its source and the town of Birr. 

It seems that in long past times, this place was 
called "Tulach Brenayd," which means (according 
to Hanmer's Chronicle) " Collis Brendani," or " Bren- 
danshill." It was also known by the name of Birr, 
Birra, or the Burre, from the Irish word birra, a 
standing water ; as Mr. O'Reilly states in his Irish- 
English Dictionary. We also find Birar to be an old 
way of expressing Birra or Bin' ; and in some old 
documents it is likewise spelled Byrre, and Byrr. In 
O'Brien's Irish-English Dictionary the word birra is 
explained to be, u abounding in wells and fountains 
of water ; hence the name of a town in the King's 
County called Birra ; English, Birr." The author of 
another dictionary states that the name comes from 
bir, a spit ; while others say, that this town acquired 


its name from bior, meaning a spring- well, as also the 
brink of a river. The place was likewise called 
Biorra3, or Biorra, as to which O'Clery says, " Biorroe, 
i.e., a plain of water, for Mr means water ; and rae 
means a plain." In O'Halloran's Ireland, we find 
the following: "The citadel built by Dido was 
called Byrsa ; and Mr is Irish for water, hence Birra 
in the King's County was so called on account of the 
number of springs about it." If these numerous 
springs ever existed in the neighbourhood of Bin-, 
it is curious what has become of them ; for, in 
late years, there does not appear to be any such 
extraordinary number of springs in the vicinity of 

It is certain the name of Birr is of great antiquity, 
however it may have been varied in the spelling, or 
whatever may be its derivation. Keating refers to 
Birr by name, when mentioning a battle fought there 
between Conmaol, son of Heber Fionn, and the pos- 
terity of Heremon, in the year of the world 2786. 
We learn from the Chronicles ofEri, that Ollamh Fodla, 
King of Ireland, some 700 years before Christ, passed 
the Soir coming from Munster, and kept the waters 
thereof on his right, " till he came in sight of the 
waters of Biorra." The Four Masters record a battle 
fought at Birr so early as the year of Christ 241, 
between Cormac, son of Con of the Hundred Battles, 
and the people of Munster. 

Birr is situate in the ancient territory of Ely 
O'Carroll, to the princes of which it formerly belonged. 


The Abbe Macgeoghagan tells us that this territory 
was called Eile, or Ely, from Eile-Biagh-Deargh, one 
of the ancestors of the tribe of 0' Carroll, who lived 
in the fourth age; and that this family of the O'Carrolls 
was from Heber, by Oliol Ollum, and Kian, his son. 
We are indebted to a note in the Boole of Rights as 
translated and edited by Dr. 'Donovan, and printed 
for the Celtic Society for the following information 
as to the ancient Ely O'Carroll : " Eile was the 
name of a tribe and an extensive territory all in the 
ancient Mumha, or Munster. They derived the name 
from Eile, the seventh in descent from Cian, son of 
Oliol Ollum. According to O'h-Uidhrin, this terri- 
tory was divided into eight ' tuatha,' ruled by eight 
petty chiefs, over whom O'Cearbhaill (O'Carroll) was 
head, or king. The ancient Eile (Ely) comprised the 
whole of Eile Ui Chearbhail (Ely O'Carroll), which is 
! now included in the King's County, and comprises the 
! baronies of Clonlisk and Ballybritt ; also the baronies 
j of Ikerrin and Elyogarty, in the County of Tipperary. 
/ The boundary between c Ely O'Carroll ' and the 
ancient Midhe (Meath) is determined by that of the 
diocese of Killaloe with the diocese of Meath, for that 
portion of the King's County which belongs to the 
diocese of Killaloe was ' Ely O'Carroll,' and originally 
belonged to Munster. The other portions of the 
original Eile, such as l Ikerrin ' and ' Elyogarty ' 
were detached from O'Cearbhaill shortly after the 
English invasion, and added to ' Ormond ' ; but the 
native chieftains, O'Meachair (O'Meagher) and 


O'Fogartaigh (O'Fogarty) were left in possession, but 
subject to the Earl of Ormond." 

In the Book of Rights the stipends to be paid by 
the King of Caiseal (Cashel) to the King of Eile, are 
thus mentioned : 

" Eight steeds to the King of Eile of the gold, 
Eight shields, eight swords are due, 
Eight drinking-horns, to be used at the feast, 
Eight coats of mail in the day of bravery." 


" The stipend of the King of Eile of the gold 
From the King of Caiseal of the banquets, 
Six shields and six bright swords, 
Six bondsmen, six bondswomen." 

It thus appears that Ely was formerly celebrated 
for gold. In the same valuable work we find : 

" Entitled is the King of Eile, so it happens, 
To (have) his country free as far as Sliabh Bladhma, 
And unless whan he makes battles for himself, [king." 
He is exempt from furnishing forces beyond each other 

O'Heerin, who died in 1420, thus alludes to the 
O'Carrolls, princes of Ely : 

" Lords to whom great men submit, 
Are the 0' Can-oils of the plain of Birr ; 
Princes of Eile as far as tall Slieve Bloom, 
The most hospitable land in Erin. 
Eight districts and eight chiefs are ruled 
By the prince of Ely of the land of herds ; 
Valiant in enforcing their tributes, 
Are the troops of the yellow-ringletted hair." 

The war-cry of O'Carroll of Ely was Showeth- 
aboe, and the arms of Sir Daniel O'Carroll, one of the 


.family, will be found in Dermot O'Connor's translation 
i of Keating's History of Ireland. 

We have already seen that the ancient Ely 0' Carroll 
was in Munster; but to show beyond doubt that 
the town of Birr was in past ages reckoned part 
of Munster, we find Colgan has, " Birra Monas- 
terium in Elia in Mumonia " Birr, a monastery in 
Ely in Munster. In his History of Ireland, Keating 
not only places it in Munster, but makes it part 
of Ormond ; and according to the same historian, the 
boundaries of ancient Meath reached the town of Birr, 
in the reign of Tuathall Teachtmhar. This confirms 
the fact already stated, that the river which flows 
from Drumcullen through Birr, is the Abhan Chara 
mentioned as part of the bounds of ancient Meath. 
These bounds of ancient Meath are described as follows 
in the translation of an old Irish Eann : 

" From Lough-bo-deirg to Birr, 
From the Shannon east to the sea, 
To Cumar Chluana-Iraird, 
And to Cumar Chluana-aird." 

This Lough-bo-deirg, or Boderg (the lough of the 
white cow), is near Carrick-on-Shannon. 

It appears, from Comerford's and Keating's Histories 
of Ireland, that the inhabitants of Ely of course 
including the people of Birr were called into 
public notice very early. Thus in the reign of 
Fergus, surnamed Black-teeth, in the year 212, 
Cormack the son of Art, had his beard set on fire, at 
a -feast at Magh Breagh, by order of the King of 


Ulster ; and lie was banished from that province. 
Cormack, upon this, applied for assistance to Thady, 
grandson of Olliol Ollum, who had great authority in 
Ely ; and Thady thereupon gathered his forces from 
all parts of Ely, and marched to Ulster, where he 
gained a complete victory. The reader will find a 
full and interesting account of this in the works men- 

There is great reason to believe that previous to 
the introduction of Christianity into the neighbour- 
hood, there was adjoining Birr a place noted for 
Druidic worship. In Birr parish, up to a compara- 
tively recent time, there was a large limestone rock 
supposed to be the stone known in the days of 
Giraldus Cambrensis, as " the navel of Ireland." 
Usher mentions that in his time a certain hollowed 
stone used to be shown at Bin* as being " Umbilicus 
Hibernia3" the navel of Ireland; and the Down 
Survey Map, made in 1657, marks the site of the 
old church of Birr, with the words " Umbilicus 

It seems almost certain that the hollowed stone 
which thus in days gone by gave a title to this 
place, was one of those rude rocks to be found in 
various parts of Ireland, which are plainly the 
remains of religious rites. They probably served for 
altars, and almost all of them have been found with 
five bowl-shaped cavities which antiquarians call 
Kock-basins. While yet famine, and other visita- 
tions, had left a taste for that traditionary lore, which 


was so powerful a means of transmitting to our days 
much of the knowledge we possess of the practices of 
the pagan ritual ; the peasantry used to speak of this 
description of stones as something which once was 
reckoned sacred. 

That the rock or stone of this description which 
was heretofore at Seffin near Birr, was the stone 
written of by Archbishop Usher, is extremely probable. 
The place where it stood was not far from the town 
of Birr, and both places are. in the parish of Birr. 
The Seffin rock stood on a little eminence beyond 
the present railway station, and at the same side 
of the road. This stone was a huge rude mass 
of limestone, marked with a number of incisions in 
the shape of fantastic crosses and other curious 
symbols, as usual, with stones of this description. 
The people accounted for the number and shape of 
these cavities, by saying they were the impression 
of the thumb and four fingers of Fin MacCoul ; which 
in itself was enough to show that this stone was the 
subject of tradition. These were, however, without 
doubt, mythic cavities ; and the stone itself was the 
visible abode of the pagan deity, and also served as 
an altar on which to sacrifize. In corroboration of 
this view, we find the name of this townland now in 
spelling and pronunciation Anglicized into Seffin 
was spelled in old documents, Sheefin and Seefin, 
which seem to be composed of two Irish words, jShee, 
a spirit, and Fen, one of the names under which the 
sun was worshipped. In fact the name signifies Sun- 


Deity or Sun- God. There is also good reason to 
know that the spot where this stone was placed was 
formerly surrounded by woods, and it was therefore 
just suited for Druidic worship. This Seffin stone was 
carried away to the county Clare, by the late Thomas 
Steele, Esq., in 1833. 

Thus it seems it was even here, at the great stone 
at Seffin afterwards called Umbilicus Hiberniae 
the people of the neighbourhood of Birr were accus- 
tomed to assemble for the worship of Fen or Phen 
identical with Beal and Moloch, and with Ur of the 
Chaldeans before the light of the Gospel dispelled the 
darkness of Paganism ; and to St. Brendan the elder, 
the early converts here were afterwards indebted for 
the founding of a monastery in Birr, on the site of 
which succeeded, in after times, the Church of this 


THE Patron Saint of Birr is known in the Irish 
language by a name which is Latinized Brendanus 
Biorra, and in English signifies Brendan of Birr. 
This name also serves to distinguish him from St. 
Brendan of Clonfert. He was even known as 
"Biorra," on which account the Four Masters write 
of some of his successors as " Sons of Biorra." 

St. Brendan is said to have been son of Luaigene, 
of a distinguished family in Minister, and is reckoned 
by Colgan amongst the relations of St. Ercus of 
Slane, and the descendants of Prince Corb, who 
resided in that part of Munster, called the Decies, 
now part of the county "Wat erf or d. 0' Flaherty 
states that Corb-Aulam was son of Fergus, King of 
Ireland, in the year of the world, 3937. St. Brendan 
was born about the year of Christ, 500 ; and according 
to Dr. Lanigan, he studied under St. Finian of 
Clonard, in a manner that shows ho was highly 
esteemed for his sanctity, and supernatural gifts. 
He was even reckoned a prophet, and is thus men- 
tioned in the Acts of St. Finian, " Brendanus Biorra^ 
qui propheta in Scholis ittis et etiam sanctorum Hiber- 
niensium habebatur" We also find St. Brendan of 


Birr in the list of the writers of Ireland, and he is 
thus referred to by "Ware, " To him (Brendan of 
Clonfert), we may join, another Brendan, son of 
Luaigne, Abbot of Birr, in the territory of Ely, now 
part of the King's County, who died there the 29th 
of November 572. Dempster in vain searches for 
this place in modem Scotland. Brendan writ of the 
virtues and praises of St. Cohimb, who was then 

It is not certain at what exact time St. Brendan 
founded the monastery at Bin-, but it must have been 
previous to the year 565, and, according to Lanigan, 
it was prior to 549. It also appears from the same 
writer, that it was St. Brendan of Bin- who advised 
St. Columkill, "Columb of the Churches," to found 
his celebrated monastery in the island of Hy or lona, 
on the coast of Scotland; and which afterwards 
became one of the chief burial places of the Scottish 
Kings. The following, from St. Adamnan's Life of 
Columkill written about A.D. 700 shows the 
great respect in which St. Brendan of Birr was held, 
and the authority he exercised in his time, even 
amongst the clergy. A certain Synod (held at 
Geashill, in the King's County), issued sentence of 
excommunication against Columkill for some supposed 
offence. On his arrival at the Synod, Brendan, who 
had seen him at a distance, rose up, saluted him with 
great respect, and embraced him. For this, some of 
the clergy remonstrated, and Brendan replied to 
them, "If you had seen what the Lord has been 


pleased to make manifest to me this day concerning 
this elect of his whom you are dishonouring, you would 
never have passed this sentence ; whereas the Lord 
does not in any manner excommunicate him in virtue 
of your wrong sentence, but rather exalts him more 
and more." On their asking his meaning, he told 
them that he saw a pillar of light advancing before 
Columkill as he was coming there, and that angels 
accompanied him over the plain, and, "Therefore," 
said he, "I dare not treat with contempt him whom I 
see pre-ordained by God as a guide of nations to life." 
Thereupon the censure was withdrawn, and the 
whole Synod paid him the greatest respect. It 
would be impossible to enter here into the many 
interesting incidents related regarding the remarkable 
friendship which existed between St. Brendan of Birr 
and St. Columkill. St. Adamnan refers to St. Brendan 
thus : " Brendanus illius monasterii fundator^ quod 
Scotice Birr a nuncupatur" 

A work like this could not be expected to go at 
length into the life of such a celebrated Saint as 
Brendan of Birr, who was even reckoned amongst 
" The Twelve Apostles of Erin." In the appendix to 
the Canons of St. Patrick is the following: "In 
memoriam etiam redueit S. Brenanum Episcopum, 
Birrensem qui colitur die 29 Novembris" from which 
it appears that St. Brendan was also Bishop of Birr. 
There is some difference amongst writers as to the 
year in which St. Brendan died. It was on the 29th 
of November, A.D. 571, according to some, while 


others place his death in the year 572. Archdali 
states, from the Munster Annals, that he died in 565, 
and relates from the same Annals a wonderful story 
of his having lived to the age of 300 years. Keating 
places Brendan's death about the year 550, and says 
that some of the ancient records of the Kingdom 
testify that he lived to the extraordinary age of nine 
score years. He gives the following from an ancient 

poet : 

" Happy the man whom Providence preserves 

To the long life of Breannian Biorra, 

Who lived in plenty and prosperity 

A hundred and eighty years, and then he died, 


Comerford says that St. Brendan died in 551, one 
hundred and eighty years old ; while the Annals of 
Clonmacnoisc have at A.D. 562, "The ascension of 
St. Brendan of Birr to the skies in his chariot or 
coach." This ascension is compared by some to that 
of Elijah; and we are also told that his departure 
from this world was made known in a supernatural 
manner to his friend St. Colurnkill, who was then at 
Hy. It may be observed, however, that while writers 
thus differ as to the exact date of the death or depar- 
ture from this world of St. Brendan, and some of 
them record very wonderful circumstances concerning 
it, yet most of them agree in referring to the event 
as having been a very remarkable and extraordinary 
one. St. Brendan is commemorated by the Irish on 
the 30th of November ; and, according to Colgan, he 
lies buried in the Church named Tempul an Cheathuir 

w * 

A 1 


aluinn in the Great Isle of Arran, at the entrance of 
the Bay of Galway. Colgan calls this the burial 
place, " quatuor pulchrorum," that is, "of the four 
beautifuls," of whom Brendan of Birr was one. 
There is not now, nor has there been for many years 
back, any trace remaining of St. Brendan's monastery 
at Birr. The "Abbey of Birra " appears, however, 
in the lists of the order of Eegular Canons of St. 

\ It is very probable that St. Patrick passed through 
\J$Birr while engaged in the conversion of the Irish ; 
f? 1 for, according to Dr. Lanigan, he went from Terry- 
, glass_ on the banks of the Shannon, to Lorha, and 
v \* thence to Brusna ; the direct line between which 
* latter places would pass near Birr. The reader will 
find more as to this visit of St. Patrick, in the account 
of Brusna further on. 

It seems there were formerly at least four small 
Dioceses in the neighbourhood of Birr. These were 
Saiger or Seir Kyrans, Eoscrea, Craibhech or 
Brusna, and Birr ; for St. Brendan was at times styled 
Bishop, and Flaithnia, Abbot of Birr, was also called 
Bishop of Biorra. The title Bishop was also given to 
some of the Abbots of Lorah. 

In the year 551, according to Comerford's Ireland, 
the people of Birr, with the other inhabitants of Ely, 
and the Ossorians, were defeated by Fiachach, the son 
of Baodham, in the bloody battles of Eolla and For- 
thela, which places are in the neighbourhood of Birr. 
The Annals of Clonmacnoise refer this to the year 


569, and thus mention it : " The battle of Talo and 
Fortalo, the names of two fields between Ely and 
Ossarie, where Fiachra MacBoydan was victor." 
This battle is stated by the Four Masters to have 
taken place in the year 571, the year in which they 
say St. Brendan departed, and both events are thus 
recorded, as translated by Dr. O'Donovan: "The 
age of Christ, 571. St. Breannainn, Abbot of Birra, 
died on the 29th day of November. The battle of 
Tola, by Fiachna, son of Baedan, son of Cairell, against 
the (people of) Osraighe and Eile; and they were 
defeated. Tola is the name of a plain between Clon- 
fert Molua and Saigher." The Annals of Ulster 
records this battle as having been fought in 572. 

Tulla is still the name of a townland in the parish 
of Kinnitty, King's County, on the way from Saiger 
Church to the Gap of Glendine, which is a difficult, 
but the only pass in this neighbourhood, through the 
Sliebh Bloom mountains into the Queen's County and 
Ossory, and to Clonfert Molua in that county. Tulla, 
which is only a few miles from Birr, is situate there- 
fore, just as Tola is described to be, between Saiger 
and Clonfert Molua. The second place mentioned in 
some of the accounts of this battle, and called For- 
thela and Forthalo, is the same now named Fortel, 
near Birr, and which is iu the same direction as Tulla, 
and not very far from it. On the Down Survey Map, 
made even so late as 1C57, Fortel is still called 

The following bishops and abbots, successors of St. 


Brendan of Birr, are mentioned by Mr. Archdall, or 
in the Annals of the Four Masters, as also by other 
writers. In the year 690, died St. Killian, Abbot, 
and successor of St. Brendan; the Abbot MacNevil died 
in 74-5 ; and in 760, died the Abbot Telactach, the 
son of Sarfelad. The Abbot St. Lergal, surnamed 
The Wise, the son of Nemet, died in 774 ; as did the 
Abbot Joseph O'Foylan, also called The Wise, in the 
year 785 ; and in 791, died Seanchan, Abbot of Birr 
and Killoughy. 

MacEiagail, the grandson of Maglen, a scribe, and 
Bishop and Abbot of Birr, died in 820, or the follow- 
ing year. He wrote a copy of the Gospels in quarto, 
upon parchment. The book is of the Yulgate Edition, 
having some variations from the common. The 
orthography is Hibernic-Latin, and the work termi- 
nates in the same Irish way as the Irish book Psalter- 
na-Rann, namely: " Finit amen, Finit amen, 
Finit." In the last page of it is: " Quicunque 
legerit et intelligent istam narrationem, orat pro 
Mac-Eeguil scriptori." This book, which is called 
Codex RusworthianuS) was preserved in the library of 
the Duke of Buckingham at Stowe ; the foregoing 
account of it being taken from " Rerum Hibernicarum 
Scrip tores Veteres" published at the expense of that 
nobleman, and compiled by the Eev. Dr. O'Connor. 

The Four Masters record that in the year 825, a 
royal meeting took place at Birr, between Conchabhar, 
son of Donchadh, King of Ireland, and Feidhlimidh, 
son of Crimhthann, King of Munster. The Annals of 


Clonmacnoise have this meeting in 824 ; while the 
Annals of Ulster state that in the year 826, there 
was : " A kingly parlee at Byre between Felim and 

Birr was plundered three times in the year 833, by 
Feidhlim MacCriomthan, the King of Munster. The 
wealth of the place at that period may be judged of, 
from its having been considered a worthy object for 
royal plunder so often in the course of the same year. 
Nor was it the Irish alone that considered it worth 
notice, for the Four Masters mention under date 
841 : " The plundering of Birr and Saigher by the 
foreigners of the Boyne ; " meaning the Danes or 
Ostmen. There is good reason to believe that these 
two places suffered in a similar way the following 

In 842, the eleventh year of Niall, Dodin, Bishop 
of Birr, died ; and in 851 the seventh year of 
Maelseachlainn died Flaithnia, son of Conghall, 
Bishop and Abbot of Birr. 

About the year 852, there was exhibited at Birr 
an example of that fatal domestic contention, in 
which the Irish were always unfortunately engaged, 
when a foreign enemy was to be opposed. In that 
year, during the strife between the Danes and Norwe- 
gians, Avho had then recently landed in Ireland, 
Feidhlim, King of Munster and Archbishop of Cashel, 
who has been already referred to, having received 
some provocation from the Northern part of the king- 
dom, entered the country, and, beginning at Birr, 



plundered the inhabitants thence to Tara; where 
he met much opposition, which he at length over- 

In 857, died Ailill Banbhan, Abbot of Birr. 
Carthach, Abbot of Birr, died in 885 ; and the Abbot 
Moran-na-Buidhe, died in 891, "at an advanced age 
and after a good life." In 923, died the Abbot 
Bohine ; and in 928, the Abbot Baithen died. 

A battle was fought at Birr in the year 949. The 
Four Masters have it thus : " A victory was gained 
over the Ui Failge, at Birra, where many were slain, 
together with Cinaeth Cruach." They also record 
that Cormac, Comorb of St. Brendan of Birr, and son 
of Congaltach, died in 989. 

The troops of Ely, commanded by their chieftain, 
0' Carroll, as appears from good authority, including 
Dr. Lanigan, fought in 1014, under the celebrated 
Brian-Borombhe, at the memorable battle of Clontarf, 
which ended in the total defeat of the Danes. They 
fought in that division which was commanded by 
Cian and Donald, two princes of the Eugenian line ; 
and which was opposed to the second division of the 

Cellach Eamhar, or the Lusty, died in 1079. He 
was Comorb of St. Brendan of Birr, and Bishop of 
Saiger. St. Silave, or Silan, Abbot of Birr, died at 
Lucca, in Italy, in the year 1100. 

In 1121, Turlogh, son of Roderick O'Connor, King 
of Ireland, invaded Munster with a numerous army ; 
and, according to O'Halloran, u he encamped near 


Birr ; " and, after spending some time there, he 
again u decamped from Birr in the middle of 
February 1122." 

A great sacrilege was committed at Birr in 1154, 
by the killing of Amhleoimbh O'Hendersgeol, King 
of Cathlnighe, at the church door. Cathluighe was 
a territory of South Munster. Birr was burned in 
1167 ; and the Annals of Boyle record that, in 1170, 
a synod called "The Synod of Birr," was held 

In the year 1174, Kughry O'Carroll, "King of 
Ely," was slain by his brother, in Inis Clothrann, in 
the river Shannon. 


SOME time previous to the year 1200, King Henry 
II. bestowed the country of the O'Carrolls, with the 
neighbouring territory of the O'Meaghers, O'Kennedys, 
O'Fogartys, and others, on Philip de Worcester and 
Theobald Fitzwalter. King John, however, notwith- 
standing this, sold the same territories to William de 
and other adventurers, about the year 1200, 
for 4,000 marks of silver. In consequence of this, 
Fitzwalter, with the help of his brother, Hubert, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, compounded with Braosa 
for his own part which included Ely 0' Carroll by 
paying him 500 marks ; and the bargain was signed 
atjjincoln in presence of the King. Previous to this, 
Fitzwalter had been appointed Grand Butler of Ire- 
land, in the lifetime of King Henry II. ; from which 
office his descendants have taken the name of Butler, 
^which they retain to the present time. From it they 
also acquired the three covered cups on their armorial 

Having thus again obtained possession of Birr and 
the rest of Ely 0' Carroll, this Theobald Walter, or 
Fitzwalter, in the reign of King John, granted part of 
the former described in the deed as, "Yillam de 
Birre," by military tenure to Hugh de Hose, or Hussy, 


ancestor to the titular Barons of Galtrim ; and the 
right to the place continued to be disputed between 
that family and the O'Carrolls, the ancient pro- 
prietors, until the plantation of Ely 0' Carroll in the 
reign of King James I. The exact time of this grant 
of Birr from Walter to Hussy cannot be ascertained, 
as it was not usual to date ancient deeds ; but from 
different circumstances, it appears to have been about 
the year 1200. The war-cry of Hussy of Galtrim 
was Cor-deragh-aboe, which is explained as, "The 
Cause of the great Cast ; " being in allusion to an 
action of one of them, in the reign of Edward II., 
who, at the battle of Athenry, single-handed, engaged 
and killed 'Kelly and his squire, the story of which 
is related in Lodge's Peerage, and in Hollinshed's 
Chronicle of Ireland. 

In the year 1205, 0' Carroll, Lord of Ely, was 
slain by the English. In 1207, according to the 
Annals of Clonmacnoise, " Moriertagh Mac Bryen 
an Sleyve besieged the castle of Byrre, and at last 
burnt the whole town ; " and, again, " the castle of 
Kinnetty, the castle of Byrre, and the castle of Lothra 
were broken down and quite destroyed by the said 
Murtagh O'Bryan." An Sleyve means, " of the moun- 
tain; " that is, Tuatharra, in the County Tipperary. 

In 1213, the English went to Athlone where they 
iTected a castle, and "they also erected the castle of 
Kinnetty, the castle of Bin-, and the castle of Durrow." 
Dr. O'Donovan from whose edition of the Four Masters 
this is taken states in a note, that the Annals of Clon- 


macnoise, as translated by Oonnell Mageoghagan, were 
more correct in saying of this occasion, that the 
English " finished and aided the castles of Dorrowe, 
Byrre, and Kynnety." It has been seen that the 
former castles of Byrre and Kinnetty were destroyed 
by O'Bryen five years before. 

Sioda M l Namara, who died in the year 1311, be- 
queathed his body to Breanan, and was interred at 
Gill Breanan at Birr, as we learn from Mr. Archdall. 
The MacNamaras were chieftains of Muighaghan, a 
territory of Thomond, in the now barony of Bunratty 
and County of Clare. They were called Mac-con- 
Maras, and were a family of much note ; and it shows 
the respect and veneration in which St. Brendan and 
his monastery were held, to find a member of such a 
family providing for his interment in Cill Breanan, so 
far from his native place. 

In a poem addressed to Eoghan O'Madden, chief of 
Siol Anmcha, part of the County Galway, with Lus- 
magh, in the present King's County, who died in 
1347 ; the bard calls him " The Lion of Biorra." The 
reader will find this mentioned more at length in the 
reference to Cloghan Castle hereafter. 

In the year 1346, O'Carroll was slain in Ely by the 
Ossorians; and in 1383, Joan, the sister of James, the 
third Earl of Arran, who was married to Teige 
O'Carroll, Prince of Ely, died of the plague. Not- 
withstanding this tic by marriage, the Earl in 1399, 
took prisoner his brother-in-law, O'Carroll, who after- 
wards continued in custody until the year 1407 ; when, 


having effected his escape from prison, he was slain by 
the Lord Deputy Scrope. 

In 1396, Thady O'Carroll, Lord of Ely, being 
about to abdicate worldly affairs, he was prevented by 
his people of Ely, and by the Irish Lords of Eastern 
Munster. In the same year he set out to pay his 
devotions in Rome to the successor of St. Peter, and 
on his return, was honourably received by the King 
in England. 

A great war broke out in 1432 between O'Carroll, 
Lord of Ely, and the Earl of Ormond ; during which 
the Earl marched at the head of a great army into 
Ely, which he ravaged ; and he demolished O'Carroll' s 
two castles. The Four Masters who record these 
events do not give the names of the castles so 
demolished, but it is probable they were the castles of 
Birr and Leinyvanane, which were the principal 
castles then belonging to O'Carroll. 

A dreadful plague raged in the summer and har- 
vest of 1447, as the Four Masters tell us ; and of 
which, among many others, died Hussy, Baron of 
Galtrim, who claimed Bin* under the grant to his 
ancestor already mentioned. It was said by some 
that 700 priests died of this plague. 

About the year 1460, according to Mageoghagan, 
the English Pale was compelled to pay tribute to the 
Irish chieftains ; and amongst the rest, the Counties 
of Kilkenny and Tipperary paid O'Carroll forty livres 
yearly. The Annals of Ulster and the Four Masters 
record the death in 1489, of the Carroll, John, son 


of Mailruanaigh 0' Carroll, Lord of Ely. It seems 
his death gave occasion to the contest for the chief- 
tainship of the sept, 'which followed between Tiege 
and William O'Carroll. 

As the Earl of Kildare, then Lord Deputy, was 
proceeding in 1513, on an expedition against O'Carroll 
of Ely, he fell sick at Athy on his journey, and return- 
ing to Kildare, he died there. 

While the right to Birr was disputed with the 
Hussys by the O'Carrolls, a difference arose between 
the members of that sept ; Fergananim, that is, " the 
man without a name," O'Carroll assuming the right 
to the country to himself. It may be more interesting 
to give from the Four Masters, as translated by Pro- 
fessor Connellan, the following account of what occurred 
at Birr in the year 1532 : " O'Carroll, i.e., Maol- 
roona, the most distinguished man of his tribe for 
renown, valour, prosperity, and excellence, to whom 
poets, travellers, ecclesiastics, and literary men were 
most thankful, and who gave most entertainment, and 
bestowed more presents than any other who lived of 
his lineage, died ; he who was the supporting mainstay 
of all persons ; the rightful, victorious rudder of his 
race; the powerful young warrior in the march of 
tribes ; the active, triumphant champion of Munster ; 
a precious stone, a carbuncle gem ; the anvil of 
knowledge, and the golden pillar of the Elyans, he 
died in his own fortress, on the festival-day of St. 
Matthew, the Evangelist, and his son Fearganainm was 
appointed his successor. On the same day, before the 


death of Maolroona, his sons defeated the Earl of 
Ormond and the sons of John 0' Carroll, and took from 
them many horses and some ordnance, which were 
called Fabcnin, from which followed the name Bel- 
atha-na-bh Fabcun to the ford where they gained that 
battle, and that was Maolroona's last victory. Fer- 
gana inm, as we have mentioned, was nominated the 
0' Carroll over his seniors, namely, the sons of John 
0' Carroll, on account of which great troubles arose 
in the country, for the sons of John, in the first place, 
took the castle of Birr, from which they continued to 
spoil the country ; the son of the parson 0' Carroll fell 
by the son of 0' Carroll, i.e., Teige Caoch, on the plain 
of Birr, in consequence of which, 0' Carroll, i.e., Fer- 
ganainm, brought his relative by marriage, the Earl 
of Kildare, Lord Justice of Ireland, to attack the sons 
of John, and they took the castle of Killurin, Caislean- 
na-Hegailse, and the castle of Ballindooney; they 
then encamped in the house of the son of Biorra (the 
monastery of Birr), and continued skirmishes were 
carried on between them and the guards of the castle, 
until the Earl received a ball in his side, which was fired 
from the castle, when they stormed the castle and took 
it ; the Earl then returned, but the ball continued 
lodged in him until the following spring, when it came 
out on the other side. It was to record the death of 
Maolroona 0' Carroll the following was composed : 
" One thousand and five hundred, 
And two and thirty years, 
From the birth of Christ who saved us, 
To the harvest in which O'Carroll died." 


It is related in Ware's Annals, that on the Earl 
being thus wounded in his attack on Birr castle, a 
common soldier standing near him said, " My Lord, 
why do you sigh so ? I myself was thrice shot with 
bullets, and yet am whole;" to which the Earl 
sharply replied, " I wish you had received the fourth 
in my stead." ft is said this wound gave the Earl's 
health a shock from which he never recovered. This 
Earl of Kildare had one of his daughters married to 
Ferganainm 0' Carroll, and the other to Bryan 
O'Conor of Offaley, which connexions were the 
ground of some of the charges afterwards brought 
against the Earl, when confined in the Tower of 
London, by Henry VIII.; for, by the Statute of 
Kilkenny, it was deemed treason for persons of 
English descent to intermarry with the Irish. The 
Castle of Killurin, above-mentioned, is in the parish 

Geashill, King's County ; Caislean-na-Hegailse is 
the Castle of Eglish ; and Ballindoony is the present 
Ballindown, both these last-named places being in the 
^ neighbourhood of Birr. 

In June 1537, according to Mageoghagan, Lord 
Leonard Grey, then Lord Deputy, took the castles of 
Eglish, Birr, and Modereny ; and, as appears by the 
Annals of Boyle, he took at same time the castles of 
Modrymore and Broghill. The same year we find 
0' Carroll, Chieftain of Ely, in Dublin, making submis- 
sion to Lord Grey ; but, notwithstanding this submis- 
sion, it seems one of the accusations against Lord 
Grey, when he was afterwards beheaded, was his 


having favoured the outrages said to have been com- 
mitted by Ferganainm O'Carroll. Thus, within a few 
years, at least two Lord Deputies got into trouble 
owing to their intimacy with the O'Carrolls. 

In 1539, a treaty was entered into between Ferga- 
nainm O'Carroll and King Henry YIIL This 
treaty, by which 0' Can-oil was acknowledged as 
Chief of Ely O'Carroll, was entitled, "Concordia 
facta inter Eegem et O'Karroll, Capitaneum patriee 
Ely O'Karroll." A copy of it is given in Sir William 
Betham's Irish Antiquarian Researches. By this 
treaty O'Carroll undertook for himself and successors 
to pay a tribute for Ely O'Carroll ; with 120 marks 
on the nomination of each person as " The 
O'Carroll." He likewise stipulated to furnish certain 
forces for the King, for a given time each year ; and 
to facilitate the passage of Deputy Lord Leonard 
Grey, with his forces, through Ely O'Carroll, when 

In the year 1541, Ferganainm 0' Can-oil was 
treacherously slain in the castle of Clonlis. (See 
more as to this in the account of Clonlisk castle). 

By an agreement entered into in 1548, as Mageogh- 
agan tells us, by Thady O'Carroll, (known by the 
name of one-eyed), with the Lord Chevelier, William 
Brabazon, Birr, together with the rest of his country, 
was charged by Thady with an annual tribute, pay- 
able into the Exchequer ; and he likewise obliged 
himself to keep a certain number of troops, as well 
cavalry as infantry, for the King's service ; and he at 


length delivered the whole country of Ely 0' Carroll 
into the hands of King Edward VI.; who, by 
Letters Patent, restored it to him with the title of 
Lord Baron of Ely. Of the truth of the latter part of 
this statement there is a doubt raised by an eminent 
antiquarian (Ware's Annals), who says : " It was 
reported, that in 1552, being the sixth year of the 
reign of King Edward VI., Thadeus 0' Carroll was 
created Baron of Ely, but that he could not find 
it recorded although it was certain that he was chief 
lord of Ely, at that time." It is well authenticated 
that in 1548, the English were completely routed out 
of 0' Carroll's country, and thereupon 0' Carroll again 
secured himself in Birr, notwithstanding the grant by 
King John, to Theobald "Walter, and the grant by the 
latter to Hussey, as already mentioned. 

Thadeus 0' Carroll afterwards joined MacMorough 
Cavanagh, O'Birne, and others in endeavouring to 
procure foreign aid against the English. He was 
slain by Cahir 0' Carroll, who succeeded him as Baron 
of Ely ; and this Cahir in his turn, fell in the year 
1554, by the sword of William Oder O'Carroll of the 
same family. The latter made himself master of the 
country of Ely O'Carroll, of which he kept possession 
for four years. 

In 1557, William O'Carroll presided over the town 
of Birr with the rest of Ely O'Carroll, having been 
made governor thereof by Royal Patent, after he had 
subscribed to the following conditions, viz : To fight 
for the King and Queen of England, and their succes- 


sors, and to send the Queen (Mary) a certain number 
of horse and foot on any necessary expeditions. The 
Earl of Sussex, on his going to England, obliged this 
O'Carroll and others, including O'Molloy of Fearcall, 
O'Duinne of Hy -Began, Mac-Coghlan of Delvin, and 
the two O'Maddens of Silanchia, to give hostages for 
their good behaviour ; but having come to an open 
rupture with the English in the year following, 
"William O'Carroll was overcome by them in a battle ; 
and having made his escape, Teige O'Carroll was put 
in the governorship in his stead, by the Lord Deputy 
and Council. 

In this same year (1557), the Earl of Essex having 
subdued the O'Moores and O'Conors, the two most 
powerful septs in Leinster, and who held the terri- 
tories of Leix and Offaley, he caused an Act of Par- 
liament, to be passed in the third and fourth years of 
the reign of Philip and Mary, by which these 
countries and the adjoining districts of Slewmarg, 
Irry, and Glenmallery were made into shire ground. 
They since form the King and Queen's Counties, 
Offaley, which was part of the Glenmallery, having 
been called the King's County. The fort which had 
been established at Dingen, in Offaley, by Lieutenant 
Francis Bryan, who had erected a castle there soon 
after the place was granted to him in 1548, was by 
the same Statute named Philipstown, which name it 
still retains, and until comparatively late years it 
was the capital town of the King's County. (See 
more as to Philipstown in the reference to Offaley 


hereafter). These two counties, thus formed, were the 
first made in Ireland since the days of King John, 
but Ely 0' Carroll and Birr were not included in the 
King's County, as then formed, nor in the commission 
and return a few years afterwards, in the third year of 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1560), limiting the 
bounds of the King's and Queen's Counties. On the 
other hand, however, it appears that in part of 
Elizabeth's reign, there were included in the King's 
County, places which are not within the present 
bounds of that County. 

Although Ely 0' Carroll and Birr were not included 
in the King's County, as thus originally formed in 
the time of Lord Essex, it appears from a letter of 
Lord Sidney, to the Lords of the Council, dated at 
Waterford, the 16th December 1575, and contained 
in Sidney's State Papers, that the attention of 
Sidney was then directed to the subject. In this 
letter, after giving an account of the King and 
Queen's Counties, he says : " And here I thought fit 
to remember likewise, Ely, or O'Carroll's Country, 
though the same be of the Province of Munster, yet 
adjoining in land and neighbourhood to the countries 
before mentioned." 

"We are indebted to a note to O'Donovan's transla- 
tion of the Four Masters, for a copy of the Surrender 
of Ely O'Carroll, dated " the 8th day of March, Anno 
Domini 1576," less than three months after the 
writing of Lord Sidney's letter, "Betwyxte Sir Henry 
Sidney, Knight, Lorde Deputy of Ireland, for and on 


behalfe of the Queenes most excellent Majestic of thone 
parte ; and Sir William O'Kerroll of Lcmyvanan in 
the countrie called Elye O'Kerroll, and now to be 
made parcell of the King's County," and some thirty- 
six others, whose names are given as being "in the 
said countrie, freeholders, of the other part." The 
reader will find a copy of this surrender (No. 1) in 
Appendix; and Dr. O'Donovan says the original is 
enrolled in the record branch of the office of Pay- 
master of Civil Services. Notwithstanding the 
statement in this surrender that Ely 0' Carroll was 
then to be made part of the King's County, this does 
not appear to have been done for several years after- 
wards ; for there is enrolled a commission, dated 7th 
of March, in the second year of the reign of James I., 
(1604), for annexing the territory of Ely O'Carroll 
to the King's County, pursuant to the Statute of 
Philip and Mary, in consequence of the robberies, and 
outrages committed there, with impunity, by reason 
of its not having been shire ground. 

Whatever may have been the view of the Lord 
Deputy in obtaining this surrender from Sir William 
O'Carroll in 1576, it is manifest O'Carroll was a 
man of dissolute habits, and that his object in making 
such surrender, was to secure the territory afterwards 
for some one of his four illegitimate, or " base " sons, 
to the exclusion of those who would otherwise have 
lawfully succeeded him. A perusal of this surrender 
at the present day is interesting, as it gives the names 
of thirty-six of the Irish proprietors, who, nearly 


300 years ago, held the territory now comprising the 
baronies of Ballybritt and Clonlisk, in the King's 
County. Many, if not all of these ancient names, 
may now appear strange to modern ears ; but more 
strange still would be the scenes and changes, could 
these thirty-six old proprietors or " freeholders " now 
return and claim their former possessions. 

The Four Masters state that in the year 1579, 
" Conal Buighe, the son of Gillpatrick, son of Pierce 
0' Moore, was slain at Birr in the territory of Ely, and 
it was better that he was killed, for it was to plunder 
the town that he had come." 

In 1580, Lord Grey, reinforced with 150 cavalry 
and six companies of infantry, sent him from England, 
overran the territories of Offaley, Fearcall, Kinelyagh, 
and Ely. According to Camden and Mageoghegan, 
he "pacified," amongst others, the O'Carrolls of Ely; 
and he caused O'Molloy, Lord of Fearcall, to be put 
to death as a seditious person. As to Fearcall and 
O'Molloy, see hereafter. 

In the year 1581, William Odhar O'Carroll, the son 
of Ferganainm, who had been confined in Dublin, was 
liberated by the Lord Justice ; and on his way home, 
he was attacked by some of the young O'Connors of 
Offaley, who were dissatisfied at his release, and who, 
therefore, as the Four Masters state, " slew him at 
once, and left his body exposed to the claws of wolves 
and ravens.'' His son, John an Fhasaigh, was ap- 
pointed the O'Carroll, and it appears from the same 
writers, that in 1582, the year following,, this John 


0' Carroll (i was with abominable and unprofitable 
treachery slain by Mulroona, son of Teige Caoch, son 
of Ferganainm ; but Mulroona, however, did not long 
survive that murder, for he himself came by his death 
in three months after, having been slain by a relative, 
namely, Calvagh, the son of William Odhar, and 
Calvagh himself was nominated to succeed his 

In April 1585, this Calvagh O'Carroll attended the 
Parliament convened at Dublin by Sir John 

the Lord Deputy. At this Parliament there also 
assisted many other Irish chieftains of territories 
about Ely O'Carroll, as Donal O'Madden of Siol 
Anmcha, Conal O'Molloy of Fearcall, and John 
MacCoghlan of Delviu Eathra. It is said that the 
independence displayed by this Irish Parliament 
showed a very favourable contrast to the fawning 
servility of the English Parliament in this and the 
])n 'ceding reigns. Calvagh, or Calvach, O'Carroll was 
slain, according to the Four Masters, in the month of 
July 1600, "by some inferior gentlemen of the 
O'Carrolls and O'Meaghers ; " and they add that 
" Calvach was a warlike, defending man, and a strong 
arm against his English and Irish neighbours ; he 
was a Knight by title and honour, by authority of 
his Sovereign." 

It appears from Morrison's Ireland, that in April 
1600, the Lord Deputy Mountjoy commanded the 
O'Carrolls to invade the O'Molloys, who were their 
neighbours in the district of IVarcall. Sir Charles 



0' Carroll is named in the Muster Eoll of the same 
Lord Deputy dated 26th March 1600 as command- 
ing 100 infantry in the Province of Leinster ; while 
Captain Mulroony 0' Carroll is named as commanding 
100 foot in O'Carroll's country, in the November of 
the same year ; and he is also mentioned as command- 
ing a like number of men in 1601, and again in April 

A short description of Ely 0' Carroll, given by 
John Dimmock, in his Treatise on Ireland, about the 
year 1600, and published by the Irish ArchsBological 
Society, will be found (No. 2) in the Appendix. In 
it Dimmock states that Ely " hath small piles of little 
importance, the chief est whereof is Limwaddon." 
This is Lemivanane, now Leap. The other chief 
castles then in Ely were Birr, Clonlisk, Dunkerrin 
now Frankfort Emil, and Cullenwaine ; as to which 
places, see further on in this work. 


UPON the Inquisition taken under the Commission for 
the plantation of Ely 0' Carroll dated the 30th of 
September, in the tenth year of the reign of King 
James I. (1612), Teige M'Callach O'Carroll was 
found to be in possession of two third parts of a plow- 
land in the town of Birr, amounting to ninety-four 
acres after deductions ; but, at the time of the planta- 
tion, Lord Viscount Thurles, on behalf of his father, 
the Earl of Ormond, informed the Commissioners that 
said Teige had granted his interest to the Earl, and 
then held at a rent as the Earl's tenant ; and Teige 
disclaimed any other title. In like manner 600 acres 
were also granted elsewhere in lieu of the Baron of 
Galtrim's interest under his ancient grant from Theo- 
bald Walter, and the entire town having thus 
become at the disposal of the Lord Deputy and Com- 
missioners they set it down for the son of Sir William 
Irwin, to whom it was accordingly assigned. Irwin 
was afterwards entreated by Lord Chancellor Loftus 
to accept of his plot in another place, which he agreed 
to do, and Birr was thereupon assigned by the Com- 
mittee to Mr. Robert Meredith. 

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, Sir 


William Parsons, Knight, an Englishman, was Surveyor 
General, and Commissioner of Escheated Estates in 
Ireland. Some Irish historians, as Taaffe and War- 
ner, do not give favourable accounts of Sir William 
Parsons, or the means by which, as they allege, he 
obtained his position. It is certain, at all events, that 
as Surveyor General and Commissioner of Escheated 
Lands in these troubled times, Sir William Parsons 
had great influence, and ample opportunity of provid- 
ing for himself, his relations and friends. 

Sir William Parsons had a brother named Laurence, 
who, in 1620, was joined with him in the offices of 
Surveyor General and the Court of Wards. Mr. 
Laurence Parsons was knighted by the Lord Deputy 
St. John, and afterwards, on the 19th of May 1624, 
he was appointed second Baron of the Court of Ex- 
chequer in Ireland. 

By virtue of the Commission for the plantation of 
Longford and Ely, a considerable extent of land was 
granted to Mr. Laurence Parsons, in the reign of 
King James I. The reader will find (No. 3) in the 
Appendix, the names of the thirty-nine persons to 
whom grants of land in Longford and Ely O'Carroll 
were then made. The names of these " undertakers " 
afford a great contrast to the thirty- six names of Irish 
proprietors or "freeholders" of Ballybritt and Clon- 
lisk baronies, mentioned in the surrender by O'Carroll 
in 1575, just forty-five years before. Amongst the 
"undertakers," we have Mr. Laurence Parsons and 
five more for 1,000 acres each, with several captains 


and lieutenants, each for some 100 acres of Irish land. 
John Beere, "our late servant's son," was granted 500 
acres. "Sergeant Hodges" had 300 acres. Bryan Q 
M'Connell, " footman to our son," was granted 200 
acres ; and Henry Piers, " soldier," had the same. It 
appears from these last-mentioned grants, that neither 
respectability of family, education, or public service 
was necessary to secure a grant of Irish land when 
Ely 0' Carroll was being " planted." 

It is clear, however, that the Inquisition taken in 
the tenth year of King James I. was not supposed to 
confer upon the crown a sufficient title in Ely 
0' Carroll. Accordingly, by a Statute passed in the 
tenth year of the reign of Charles I., it was enacted 
that, " the king, his heirs, and successors, should be 
adjudged to be rightfully seized of a good estate in 
fee-simple, and in the actual and real possession in 
right of the Crown of England and Ireland, of the 
several countries commonly known by the names of 
Ely O'Carroll, alias O'Carroll's country ; Fercal, alias 
Mulloy's country ; Kilcoursev. alias Fox, his country : 
Delvin MacCoghlan, alias MacCoghlan^s country in the 
King's County." It seems from the foregoing, that the ^ ^ \ 
" undertakers " of these days not only enjoyed a 
monopoly of the "grants," but they also had the 
advantage of being able to get bad titles converted ^ -*. 
into good ones. 

The plantation of 1,000 acres then allotted to Sir 
Laurence Parsons being well situated, the Lord 
Chancellor took a liking to it, and prevailed upon him 


to exchange it for the town of Birr. The order for 
giving Sir Laurence possession of Birr is dated the 
22nd of June 1620 ; and by the letters patent, dated 
26th of the same month, it appears that Birr must 
have been then looked on as of considerable military 
importance ; for it is there described as the castle and 
fort village and land of Birr. It was by the same 
letters patent erected into the manor of Parsonstown ; 
and on the 7th of July following, the High Sheriff, 
Captain Francis Acland, removed the former proprie- 
tors, and put Sir Laurence Parsons into possession, 
in presence, as his return states, of Hobert Dillon, 
Teige M'Dough O'Carroll of Eathmore, Phillip 
O'Dwiggan, John Dalton, who was Sub-Sheriff, Gre- 
gory O'Dullahan, John Maynaghan, Cullogh Fitz- 
patrick, Eichard Evans, William Dalton, John Taylor, 
and John Forde. In these letters patent are also 
included the lands of Ballindarragh and Bealaneale, 
otherwise Cappineale, with several other lands, includ- 
ing the castle, town, and lands of Clonoughill, but 
excepting the castle and bawn and a portion of the 
lands of Ballindarragh. 

Almost immediately after getting the possession of 
Birr, Sir Laurence Parsons commenced to build and 
make other improvements there, at considerable 
expense. On the 23rd of November 1620, he obtained 
a grant of a Tuesday-market, and two fairs to be held in 
Birr on the festivals of St. Mark and St. Andrew; and 
afterwards, on the 27th of April 1627, he obtained a 
grant from the Crown of a Saturday-market and two 


additional fairs to be held on the 1st of February and 
15th of August, which two last -mentioned fairs, 
owing to the change of the style, now fall upon the 
llth of February and 25th of August. The other two 
fairs are now held on the 6th of May and 10th of 

In the same month of November 1620, Sir 
Laurence sent his steward, Francis Morley, after- 
wards clerk of the subsidies, to put the castle at Birr 
in fit order for his reception, and the country was 
then so wild and uncivilized, that Morley was obliged 
to employ a guide to conduct him to the neighbouring 
village of Portumna, for which, and his own expenses 
on the journey, he charged Sir Laurence five shillings 
and eightpence of the then currency, as appeared by 
his account book, which in 1826 was still in the 
possession of the then Earl of Eosse. 

The prices of provisions, work, and materials for 
building in Birr, in the end of 1620, and beginning of 
1621, were, according to this account book, as follows: 
A labourer received from sixpence to eightpence a 
day ; a man and horse, one shilling a day ; a mason, 
one and fourpence ; mason work by the perch, two 
shillings and sixpence ; ditto, finding materials, six 
shillings and eightpence ; plastering, three farthings 
per yard ; hewing stones for coins and corbels, two- 
pence halfpenny per fodt ; wainscoting, one shilling 
and threepence a yard, and two shillings and sixpence 
the border; iron, two shillings a stone; shoeing a horse, 
fourpence a shoe ; gunpowder, one shilling and six- 


pence per pound ; a mutton, three shillings and 
fourpence ; a quarter of be'ef, four shillings and 
sixpence ; butter, threepence halfpenny a pound ; 
oats, three shillings and fourpence the barrel ; hops, 
one shilling a pound; a quart of sack wine, one 
shilling ; a quart of claret, sixpence ; a quart of 
aqua vitas, one shilling and fourpence. 

Shortly after Sir Laurence had been put into pos- 
session of Birr, Teige M'Callagh O'Carroll, the repre- 
sentative of the ancient proprietors, petitioned the 
King, setting forth that Birr belonged to him, and 
praying to be re-instated. However, this and a second 
memorial to the same purpose not having produced 
the wished for effect, he a third time petitioned, refer- 
ring to his former memorials, and stating that he was 
seized of this place, and that it was enjoyed by his 
ancestors for upwards of one thousand years; and 
praying that it might be peremptorily referred to the 
Master of the Eequests to re-instate him in Birr, which 
he called his chief seat. Thereupon the King had the 
petition transmitted on the 16th of July 1622, to 
Lord Viscount Falkland, then Lord Deputy of Ire- 
land ; and it was by him. referred to his Majesty's 
Surveyor General of Lands in Ireland (Sir William 
Parsons), who, on the 17th of October following, 
reported thereon, setting forth the title of the 
Baron of Galtrim, and of the Earl of Ormond, as 
already mentioned ; and he ultimately decided against 
the pretensions of O'Carroll as unfounded. _ The 
Surveyor General also stated in his report, that Sir 


Laurence Parsons had then built on the premises at a 
very great expense. Whether the claim then made 
by him was well founded or not, it is in no way 
strange that this Teige M'Callagh 0' Carroll did not 
succeed in his petition against Sir Laurence Parsons, 
when such success depended upon the report of the 
Surveyor General, Sir William Parsons, the brother 
of the person complained against. 

Very soon after the grant of Birr to Sir Laurence 
Parsons in 1620, several persons took leases from 
him. In the Appendix (No. 4) will be found a list 
of these tenants taken from a Eental in the hand- 
writing of Sir Laurence Parsons. This list is 
interesting, as it gives the names of some sixty 
persons who had leases in Birr about 250 years ago. 
These names are neither all Irish, as those of the 
"freeholders," given in the copy surrender of Ely 
0' Carroll in 1576, nor are they all English, as the 
" undertakers," to whom land in Ely 0' Carroll was 
granted on the "plantation." The Bin* lessees appear 
to have been mixed, many having old Irish names, 
and others being clearly English. As far as can be 
judged by names, there are not in Birr in late years 
many descendants of these original lessees, either 
Irish or English. 

It appears from an entry in the same rental, that 
on the 9th of October 1623, Sir Laurence Parsons 
made a lease to Abraham Bigo, of the " castle, town, 
and part of the plow-land of Clonoghill ; with a pro- 
viso that the tenant was "not to set up any glass 


house or glass work on any other land, or buy wood 
of any other for his glass work, but only of said 
Laurence Parsons." This lease also contained a 
covenant that said Bigo should within a year build a 
stone or brick chimney to the castle, from which it 
appears that Clonoghill castle had no chimney 
previous to that time. 

The Bigo family were Huguenots who had fled from 
Lorraine. More full information as regards this 
family will be found in the account of Banagher here- 
after. The Bigo family were skilled in the manufac- 
ture of glass, and the Birr glass-works appear to have 
quickly attained importance under their care, for 
these glass-works are alluded to in Boate and Moly- 
neux's Natural History of Ireland, which, after 
mentioning that several glass-houses had been set up 
in Ireland, by the English, says : " Amongst the 
principal was that of Birre, a market town, otherwise 
Parsonstown, after one Sir Laurence Parsons. From 
this place Dublin was furnished with all sorts of 
window and drinking glasses, and such other as are 
commonly in use. One part of the materials, viz., the 
sand, they had out of England ; the other, to wit, the 
ashes, they made in the place of ash tree, and used no 
other. The chiefest difficulty was to get the clay for 
the pots to melt the materials in. This they had out 
of the north." These glass-works appear to have been 
carried on from 1623 to Easter 1627, when the lease 
was surrendered. The remains of an ancient glass- 
house, with parts of crucibles and fragments of glass, 


were discovered some years ago at Clonbrone, adjoin- 
ing Clonoghill, and not far from Birr, and which 
seems to have been the glass-house alluded to. 
Clonoghill Castle was burned in the year 1642 by the 
Irish, and the ruins are yet to be seen in Syngefield 
demesne, about half-a-mile from Birr. 

There also appears to have been a fishing weir, of 
some importance in these early times, on the Little 
Brusna river, close to Birr, at the part of Cappaneal 
called Tircoragh, meaning, "the district of the weir," 
or "the weir district," from tir, a district, and cora, a 
weir. It appears from the rental already alluded to 
that this fishing weir was leased by Sir Laurence 
Parsons, the 4th of June 1621, to Thomas Teigh and 
Philip Trady, for six years. It also appears, however, 
that this weir was subsequently " plucked down by a 
presentment of the Grand Jury and order of the Lord 
Justices, at Lent Assizes 1623." 

About this time there were likewise two grist 
mills at Birr, for there appears to have been a lease 
of them, made to Francis Morley the 18th of July 
1623 ; and in the inquisition post mortem on Sir 
Laurence Parsons, who died in 1628, it is stated that 
at this period there were five water mills at Birr. 
One of these was distinguished even then, as " the 
Old Mill ; " and in these times the part of the present 
Chapel Lane, adjoining the river, and near the mill- 
pond and mill, went by the name of Lough-cora, 
which means, the lough at the weir. 

The ancient castle of the O'Carrolls at Birr was 


called the "Black Castle." ^ It stood about sixty 
yards north-west of the present castle, on the edge of 
the high ground over the river, and the principal 
tower, which was very high, was erected on an arti- 
ficial mound of earth. This ancient pile has been long 
since demolished, and when standing, contained the 
dungeon of the fortification. There was a lawn or 
enclosure around it, the walls of which were repaired 
by Sir Laurence Parsons in 1620-21, when he also 
had an additional tower, about forty-six feet long and 
twenty-five broad, built to the fortress, and under 
which tower was the principal gateway. The remains 
of this last-mentioned tower, form the hall and centre 
of the present building, and the entrance to the fort 
was through arches of hewn stone at each end of it. 
In 1622-23, Sir Laurence built a porter's lodge, and 
also what was called "the garden tower;" and he 
likewise fitted up a drawing-room, and enclosed a 
garden and orchard. 

In 1624, Sir Laurence erected a new kitchen and 
other offices, which formed a long range of buildings, 
and composed one side of the court. The stables ex- 
tended along the river, south of the Black Castle, and 
formed another side ; and on the north stood a double 
wall, filled up with earth between, and having a gate- 
way in the centre. These buildings were thrown down 
by the late Sir "William Parsons, about the year 1778. 
In 1627, Sir Laurence built the " French Flanker," 
the site of which is now unknown ; and he likewise 
erected on the old Black Castle, a watch-tower, which 


stood on thirteen corbtls, projecting on the outside, 
and over-topped all the neighbouring buildings. 

It is very probable it was between the grant to Sir 
Laurence Parsons in 1620, and his death in 1628, 
that the .square tower or belfry was added to the old 
Church in Birr. It is evident that this belfry is more 
modern than the remainder of the Church ; and also 
that it was built against the gable end of the Church 
previously there ; and, as the arms of Sir Laurence 
Parsons, impaled with those of his wife, are still 
remaining over the entrance to this tower, it seems 
very likely that it was erected in his time. This 
tower has also the appearance of having been intended 
as a place of defence, as well as a belfry ; and there is 
no doubt but it was used as such place of defence in 
1641, and again in 1690. 

There was at this time, about 1620, a bridge 
over the Birr river, leading into the town at the 
end of Castle Street, near the castle. This bridge 
crossed the river opposite to the old church, where 
the distillery yard was in later days, and led from 
Brendan's Well, which was close to the river on 
the opposite side ; and from Killeen and Croghan 
in Tipperary, by a now long unused and closed 
up road. This old bridge was swept away by a 
flood in 1787, but some remains of it were to 
be seen in late years. There was also a wooden 
trough formerly across the river here, which con- 
veyed water, raised by a wheel worked by the 
river, from Brendan's Well to a cistern which stood 


where the distillery yard .was afterwards. There 
was then likewise a passage leading to this well 
from High Street, through the present Post Office 

It appears that so early as 1626 there was a Free 
School in Birr, and that Sir Laurence Parsons, on his 
petition, obtained for a while, a grant of 200 acres for 
the use of the schoolmaster. The petition was as 
follows : " To the Eight Honorable the Lord Deputy, 
the humble petition of Sir Laurence Parsons 
declaring that when there was allotted upon the 
division of Fercall, 200 acres for a Free-school to be 
erected in that "plantation, which lieth still in His 
Majesty's gift. The premises considered, and foras- 
much as there is a schoolmaster in your petitioner's 
town of Birr, who teacheth the youth of that country 
to the great good thereof, your suppliant therefore 
humbly prays that your Lordship will be pleased to 
grant him a Gusto dium of the said land for the use of 
the said schoolmaster, until such time as your Lord- 
ship shall otherwise dispose thereof, and your sup- 
pliant shall pray 8th July 1626." On the foregoing 
petition, an order, signed by Lord Deputy Falkland 
and the Council, was made as follows : "The land 
allotted for the Free-school in the King's County 
being yet undisposed of, we are pleased to grant the 
same unto the petitioner to the use of the School- 
master residing at Birr, and the Sheriff of the King's 
County, is to put him in possession, to continue for 
and until such time as we shall otherwise dispose 


thereof." The Birr schoolmaster did not long enjoy 
his 200 acres, however, for in two years afterwards it 
was granted to Banagher school, to which it still con- 
tinues attached. It is creditable to modern Birr that 
a schoolmaster is now by no means such a rara avis 
there, as the one referred to in the petition of Sir 
Laurence appears to have been, in 1626. 

From time to time, after getting possession of Birr, 
Sir Laurence made several curious, and as some of 
them would appear at the present time very arbitrary 
ordinances for the regulation of the town in various 
ways. These are the more remarkable as having 
been made by a Baron of the Court of Exchequer, 
which Sir Laurence then was. Thus in August 1626, 
he made an order for the paving and cleaning of the 
town, a as well beyond the bridge as within the 
town," which might form a precedent for some 
modem town councils. In these times all beyond 
the old bridge was considered to be outside the 

Again, in December of the same year, he passed an 
ordinance for the regulation of drinking-houses in 
Birr, which might also rival modern legislation on 
the subject ; and by it he directed for reasons not 
very flattering to the gentler sex that no single 
woman should supply drink, on pain of being put in 
the stocks for three market days ; and in 1627, ho 
made a by-law to compel the inhabitants to build 
chimneys, or in default to be banished from the town. 
The reader will find some of these curious ordinances 


(Nos. 5, 6, & 7) in the Appendix. Most of the fines were 
to be applied to the repairs of the Parish Church, and 
of " the Market Cross ; " but it does not now appear 
where this cross was, or what has become of it. 

This same year (1627), Sir Laurence, with the 
assistance of the Eev. Eobert Sheeply, the then Vicar, 
published regulations for burials in the Church-yard, 
now the old Church-yard of Birr. It appears by 
these regulations, dated 4th October 1827, that the 
Churchwardens were to be paid for burials in the body 
of the Church, and the money arising therefrom was 
to be applied towards the repairs of the Church, and 
other things necessary for it. The sum to be paid 
for such interment was six shillings and eightpence 
for a parishioner, and thirteen and fourpence for a 
stranger ; and the burial of a stranger in the Church- 
yard was to be agreed for with the minister and 
churchwardens, and the money to be applied to the 
same use as the former. The burial of parishioners 
in the Church-yard was free, except the payment of 
one shilling to the minister, fourpence to the parish 
clerk, and fourpence to the sexton, who was to make 
the grave. On the interment of foreigners or 
strangers, the minister, clerk, and sexton were to be 
entitled to double fees. 

From a valuation made by Kowland Delahoide and 
other Commissioners in 1629, it appears the rectory 
of Birr was valued at six pounds per annum, and the 
vicarage at three pounds. This was in the currency of 
the time. 


The tolls payable in Birr in 1626 were as follows: 
a horse, threepence ; a cow, threepence, twopence 
of which went to the book-keeper ; a pig, one 
penny ; a sheep, one halfpenny, and if ten sold 
to pay oiie penny, and if twenty, twopence ; woollen 
cloth, every piece of, containing twenty yards, one 
penny; and if les$ than twenty yards, one half- 
penny; bag of brogues, one penny; every hide 
above three years old, one penny ; ditto under, 
one halfpenny; every seven pounds of butter, 
one farthing. In after years there was a market 
house erected in the market square of Birr, which 
was used at times for holding the County Assizes 
in, and many people were there sentenced to 
death, by court-martial or otherwise. This market 
house was also at times used as a military posi- 
tion, by either party, during the contentions which 
took place for the possession of the castle and 
town of Birr. The following entry in respect to 
this market house appears in the handwriting of 
a later Sir Laurence Parsons in the old Eental 
before referred to : "~Mem. Darby Mulrean hath 
taken from me ye markett place of Birr whear 
he is to bild as good a house as is bilt in Eoscrea, 
and to alowe a roome for ye corne and measures 
to him yt takes ye markett customs, and his leace 
of seven years is expired and he is to shingle the 
hole house within twelve years of his terme ye 
Leace is to commence ye first of May next for 
t \. outy one years at three pounds rent per annum. 



Dat, July 2nd 1671." Were a Birr schoolboy 
of the present day to judge by the spelling and 
diction of the foregoing, without reference to the 
custom of the times, he would probably be of 
opinion that the writer of it deserved to be flogged ; 
or at all events, that he required a schoolmaster 
nearly as much as those for whom, as we have 
seen, his ancestor had provided one nearly fifty years 

In 1628, the old gaol of Birr, part of which yet 
remains, stood at the south-side of the old bridge. 
This now plain looking old building was a remark- 
able place in past times, and several persons, then 
of consequence, have been confined there. Thus 
Darby, "The "Wild Captain," was imprisoned in this 
gaol, in 1648 ; and Sir Laurence Parsons and 
Mr. Jonathan Darby, of Leap, were confined here 
in 1689. Several persons have also been executed 
here from time to time, and it was likewise 
occasionally used as a military position. These cir- 
cumstances will be more fully referred to in their 
proper places. 

About the year 1628, Castle Street was the prin- 
cipal street in Birr. There were then also Laurence 
Street, St. Brendan's Street, "Northe" Street, and 
High Street, with some lesser streets and lanes. At 
this time, however, there were only a few houses, 
including the gaol, beyond the old bridge; and it 
appears from a plan of the town, so late as 1691, that 
even then the town did not extend northwards beyond 


the present Cumberland Square. In fact it was only 
in the commencement of the present century that the 
first houses in Cumberland Street were erected. 
There is no doubt, however, but some of the streets 
above-named existed in Birr long previous to the 
coming there of Sir Laurence Parsons. 


SIR LAURENCE PARSONS died in the month oi Septem- 
ber 1628, and was succeeded by his eldest son Richard, 

' a minor, who died in May 1634. Mr. William Par- 
sons, second son of Sir Laurence, succeeded his brother ; 
and under the Commission for Remedy of Defective 
Titles he obtained in 1636, a confirmation of the 

) grant already made to his father. By this new grant 
he was to hold the premises as a forestat an increased 

In the commencement of the war of 1641, Mr. 
"William Parsons was appointed Governor of Ely 
0' Carroll and its borders, and also of Birr castle, 
which he garrisoned with his tenants to oppose the 
O'Molloys, O'Carrolls, M'Coghlans, O'Kennedies and 
Ormonders. From this time forward several skirmishes 
appear to have taken place between the Birr garrison 
and the different Irish septs surrounding the town ; 
and amongst the rest, an attack was made by the 
O'Molloys in December 1641, on the castle of 
Clonoghill, and an attack was also made by the Irish 
on the 28th of January following, on the castle of 
Ballindarra, which was defended by some of the 


Birr garrison. Both these attacks seem to have 
been repulsed. 

The following circumstances and letters show that 
the Irish of those days were not the uncultivated 
people they are sometimes represented to have been ; 
and also prove that there were men of much spirit 
amongst them. Governor Parsons wrote to Colonel 
Moore, an Irish commander whose camp was then at 
Eglishj_ u few miles from Birr to endeavour to 
bring him over to his side; and promising His 
Majesty's pardon for the past. The letter, however, was 
intercepted before reaching its destination by Phelim 
Molloy, from whose answer, dated 2oth of March 
1641, the following is an extract: "Mr. Parsons, I 
intercepted your letter before it came to my Colonel's 
hands, which, Avhen I perused, I began to be jealous 
for your partiality, offering your protection to the 
head and excluding the members from the wings of 
your mercy. You write to my Colonel forthwith to 
repair unto you, and to help you in suppressing those 
who have offended His Majesty ; but who are the 
offenders ? The English or the Irish ? I say without 
any partial regard of either nation, that they are partly 
of the Irish, and, for the most part, the English 
officers uiicl governors, who, contrary to His Majesty's 
gracious intentions, oppressed the poor subjects, which 
brod a great scandal to the King's dignity and crown. 
If you join with them, Mr. Parsons, we cannot, in 
conscience, join in an unlawful matter with you, or 
with anybody of that fashion, or imy i'ashion else; 


contrariwise, if you be a true subject, or if God (that I 
may use your own words) hath yet some share in you, 
recanting your former life which you have lived these 
three months last past, I promise you, in my Colonel's 
name, His Majesty's protection, promising you here- 
by faithfully my best endeavours for the preserva- 
tion of yourself, your wife, children, and your good 
mother, whom we held hitherto to be good neigh- 
bours, withal assuring you that the good opinion 
which we conceived of you and your mother was the 
only cause that we behaved ourselves so mild and 
tender-hearted towards you; which thing your brother- 
in-law will try by experience to be true, if he be too 
forward, especially against the poorer sort, whom, as 
I am informed, he hangs and kills without remorse of 
conscience, which is no sign of manhood or civil 
Christianity." The brother-in-law above referred to 
was Captain Coote, who was reputed to be very cruel 
towards the Irish. 

On the 5th of September following, the Lady Par- 
sons' coach-horses were carried away by some of the 
Irish, and she applied to Colonel Moore to have them 
restored. His reply which bears testimony to her 
popularity, and reflects credit on the soldier who 
wrote it was as follows: "Much honour'd Lady, I 
received your letter, which might easily move me to 
do your Ladyship any lawful service, which I have 
always coveted to do unto all such of your condition, 
virtue, and worth, and much the rather for that I find 
all the gentry and neighbours of these parts to much 


honour, esteem and love you, and in that degree that 
one would think you were of their blood and flesh ; 
and they 're detained against their will and to thoir 
great grief. Thit, Madam, it pleased God by His will or 
sufferance that this great alteration and separation of 
many friends should happen, which hath reduced us to 
that condition that those who were a little while since 
loving friends, are now burning, killing, and destroying 
one another. And for your part, Madam, though 1 
think you have no malice to us, yet are you the sup- 
porter and maintainer of that place, and those that are 
with you being known, as I hear, to be malicious, will 
take anything you have to help their designs, as they 
have used those horses now writ of, and by likelihood 
would do again, so that if I should get them restored, 
I should arm or help my enemy against myself, in 
which case (if you were a judge yourself) you would 
condemn me as much as any. But if I were assured 
no such use would be made of them, I would endeavour 
to get them restored, which truly I hold but a poor 
courtesy uiid nothing to what I should tind myself 
willing to do for your Ladyship. I would write a 
little more that might rather tend to your good than 
otherwise, but that I will not imitate some who stuff 
their letters with bragging, flaunting, and inventing 
news j but only I wish with all my heart that your 
Ladyship "\veiv out of that danger that some think you 
are in, for I hear you wish well to all honest people, 
and so I take leave and remain, your Ladyship's friend 
and servant in what I may, P. Moore. Dated the 


5th September 1642. To my much honoured and 
highly esteemed friend, the Lady Anne Parsons, 
these be presented." 

The Birr garrison was put on the government estab- 
lishment the 1st of April 1642. By the order of the 
Lords Justices and Council for that purpose, after 
reciting that the garrison had been theretofore kept by 
the Governor Parsons, it was ordered that he as captain, 
and his twenty-five cavalry and their officers, and 
Captain Coote and his hundred infantry and their 
officers, should be put upon the books by the Muster- 
master General ; and that 'they should have thencefor- 
ward rations from government, and, receive pay from 
the 1st of March previous. 

We find this castle closely besieged by the Irish 
in April 1642. It was reduced to such great dis- 
tress during the siege that many died, while others 
maintained nature by feeding on cats and dogs, several 
respectable persons giving twenty shillings for a 
sucking colt, and two shillings for the blood and 
entrails of a horse. There were then nine hundred 
persons in the castle and town. On the 8th of May, 
the Earl of Ormond, who was then at Maryborough, 
despatched Sir Thomas Lucas, Commissary General of 
the horse, Sir Charles Coote, Sir Eichard Grenville, 
and Captain Yarner, with six troops of horse and 
dragoons, to its relief, as well as to the relief of 
the castles of ^uxcoj and Knocknamase (now 
Golden Grove, near Eoscrea), which were also reduced 
to great distress for want of ammunition. " This 


enterprise," says Mr. Carte, " was both difficult and 
dangerous, by reason of the distance of these places, 
the length of the march, and badness of the roads 
through woods, bogs, and denies ; and the great mul- 
titude of the enemy's troops which lay disposed in 
these parts, and which, united, might intercept the 
detachment, if not in their march, at least in their 
retreat to the army." This party of horse took their 
way through the woods of Mountrath, performed the 
service for which they were sent, and returning 
through O'Dunn's country by the way of Portene- 
hinch, whither the Earl of Ormond sent a body of 500 
foot and a troop of horse, under Colonel Monk, to 
favour their passage of the Barrow, they, after sur- 
mounting incredible difficulties, and performing a 
march of forty-eight hours without more than three 
hours' rest, came back safe to the army, not having 
met with any loss except that of some horses which 
were rendered unserviceable by the greatness of the 
fatigue. It is stated in Playfair's Irish Baronetage, 
that it was in consequence of this successful expedi- 
tion that the title of Earl of Mountrath was entailed 
on the posterity of Sir Charles Coote. 

The following account of occurrences at Birr in the 
early part of 1643 is taken partly from Carte's Ormond 
and other writers, and partly from a MS. Journal 
which was in the possession of the late Laurence, 
Earl of Eosse in 1826. This Journal purported to 
have been kept at Birr castle during the occurrences 
mentioned in it, and it had every appearance of being 

58 HISTORY of 

written at the time. The writer of the present history, 
without wishing to be responsible for either the 
accuracy or impartiality of this Journal, thinks it 
better to give such information from it, as in the mean 
facts, is corroborated by other authorities. 

Birr castle was again attacked early in the year 
1643. Preston, the general commanding the con- 
federate army of Leinster, an officer of great ex- 
perience, having collected about 2,500 foot and some 
troops of horse, invested the castle of Buj^is, which 
surrendered to him on the 30th of December 1642. 
From thence he marched to Birr, having intelligence 
that the garrison had not powder to stand two hours' 
assault. On the 14th of January 1643, the forces in 
the castle received information that he was approach- 
ing with great pieces of artillery ; and on the same 
evening about dusk, the governor's scouts saw about 
200 of the enemy at Gree, and Crinkle, or Crinkill, 
both near Birr. The following day, Sunday, General 
Preston appeared with 100 horse and 200 foot, on 
Drumbawn Hill over the town. From thence he 
reconnoitred the town and castle, and after firing some 
shots, he encamped in the neighbouring woods ; and 
from this time continued a close siege until the place 
surrendered on the 20th. The enemy again showed 
themselves on the 16th, with cavalry and infantry and 
waggon train, to the number of about 2,000, and fired 
several shots at the castle, to which they sent a 
drummer in the afternoon with a paper containing the 
following words : "A memorandum for the drummer 


that desires that the governor, Mr. Parsons, do send 
a safe conduct for a gentleman, the Lord Governor of 
Leinster doth intend to send to him." In reply to 
this the Governor stated, that any gentleman that 
came to speak to him should have free egress and 
regress ; and soon after, a person styling himself Mr. 
Oliver Darcy, of Platten, came from General Preston. 
Mr. Darcy required to know whether the Governor 
held the place for the King or for the Parliament, and 
desired that he should allow the Lord General to place 
a garrison there for His Majesty's use. To this the 
governor answered, that he had no intelligence either 
from His Majesty or the Parliament, concerning any 
difference between them, but he held his castle and 
land by royal patent granted to his father, and then 
vested in him, and that he was by His Majesty's Com- 
mission, dated about twelve months before, appointed 
commander-in-chief of the territory of Ely 0' Carroll 
and the borders thereof. Preston, dissatisfied with 
his reply, pitched his tents in the fields adjoining the 
town, and in the course of the night drew a trench 
across the Guvemur's orchard, and another from the 
sessions house to the town. The confederate forces 
played their artillery the entire of next day upon the 
walls of the castle, and killed one man in the town ; 
the remaining houses in which the Governor caused to 
bo set on fire to prevent the enemy from taking shelter 
in them ; and in the afternoon seven cannon shot were 
fired against the castle. The ensuing night, the 
enemy having been instructed by a mason who had 


been employed in building the castle approached 
within eight feet of the walls, and having hit upon a 
green, clayish bank, on the west side of the building, 
they undermined it in two places. The mouth of the 
mine was not more than four yards from the walls. 
The garrison hearing the sap, fired some shot, and 
rolled great stones down the bank upon the besiegers ; 
but by break of day they were got under ground, and 
out of all danger. In the morning the besieged dis- 
covered a barrel of gunpowder, which was left at the 
mouth of the mine, those who brought it having been 
obliged to desist, during the day-time, by the fire kept 
up from the castle. On the 18th, Preston's troopsdis- 
charged eleven great shot at the castle, which the 
General declared his determination to beat down about 
the Governor's ears ; and they succeeded in demolish- 
ing a great part of the wall in one of the flankers. 
Some of the balls were found in the building, and 
weighed nine pounds each. By this time a party 
which the Governor had placed in a mill, were strongly- 
assaulted, and had killed from twenty to thirty of 
their assailants. However, their ammunition -was ex- 
hausted, and the mill set on fire over their heads. To 
relieve this brave little corps, the Governor although 
he knew the request would not be complied with sent 
a message to Preston, desiring that his cattle might 
be allowed to graze abroad, which the latter refused to 
permit, but, pending the negotiation, the troops in the 
mill were withdrawn. 

The garrison having bravely held out for two days 


after a mine was prepared beneath them, was obliged 
to beat a parley on the 19th. On the 20th, pledges 
were sent in for the Governor's safe return from the 
camp, to which he accordingly went, and after a long 
debate capitulated that the garrison should march out 
the next day, horse and foot, with arms, half their 
plate and money, their clothes, and as much provi- 
sions as they could carry. The reader will find (No. 8) 
in the Appendix, a copy of the articles entered into 
on this occasion. 

Preston was more willing to grant these honourable 
terms, in consequence of secret articles having been at 
the same time executed by the Governor, by which 
he promised to interfere with the Lord Justice for the 
enlargement of three persons then in confinement, 
namely, Nicholas Egan of Eath-Coffy, Catherine his 
wife, and her sister, who was a religious woman. 
This Catherine Egan's maiden name was Preston, and 
it is likely she was some near relation of the General. 

The following, taken from Castlehaveri* s Memoirs, 
shows the extremities to which the Birr garrison 
was reduced. Lord Castlehaven was Lieutenant 
General of the Leinster horse, under Preston, and 
was a witness of the scenes he describes, the day 
after the capitulation. " My General " (Preston), says 
he, "took Burris, Fortfalkland," (Banagher), "and 
Birr, in the King's County, where I was with him, 
and had the good fortune to begin my command in 
the army with an act of charity, for, going to see the 
garrison of Birr before it marched out, I came into a 


great room, where I found many people of quality, 
both men and women. They no sooner saw me, but, 
with tears in their eyes, they upon their knees, desired 
me to save their lives. I was astonished at their 
posture and petition, and having made them rise, 
asked what the matter was ? They answered, that from 
the first day of the war there had been continual 
actions and bloodshed between them and their Irish 
neighbours, and little quarter on either side ; and, 
therefore (understanding I was an Englishman), 
begged that I would take them into my protection. 
I knew there was too much reason for their fears, 
considering they were to march two or three days 
through the woods of Irregan and waste countries 
before they came to Athy, their next friendly garrison. 
I went, therefore, to the General immediately, and got 
to be commander of their convoy, and to make sure, I 
called out three hundred foot and two hundred horse, 
in whom I had much confidence,- and carried off the 
people, who were, at least, eight hundred, men, 
women, and children, and, though sometimes attacked, 
I delivered them, with their luggage, safe to their 
friends." Preston, after the surrender of Birr, ad- 
vanced upon and took Banagher, and it seems from 
Castlehaveri 1 s Memoirs that he continued in possession 
of the castle of Birr, with all the other forts in the 
King's County, in July 1643. It must also have 
been in his power in 1645, as mention is made of his 
having been in Birr at that time ; but it was ulti- 
mately reduced by the army of Oliver Cromwell. 


From 1645, Birr remained in the possession of the 
Confederate Catholic forces, until the year 1650 ; and, 
accordingly, we meet with the name of one William 
Birmingham, of Parsonstown, signed to the new form 
of oath of the Confederates, in 164G. He was pro- 
bably one of the Athenree family, as they appear to 
have been connected with the O'Carrolls. In the 
pedigree of Sir Daniel O'Carroll, in Keating s History 
of Ireland, by O'Connor, John O'Carroll, in Crom- 
well's time, is said to have been married to Margaret, 
daughter of O'Crean Sligoe, by his wife Margaret, 
daughter to the Lord Birmingham, of Athenree. 

The substance of the oath of the Confederates was as 
follows, viz : To bear allegiance to King Charles, I., 
his heirs and successors; to support the Roman 
Catholics and all those who should take the same oath ; 
to obey the orders of the Supreme Council of the Con- 
federate Catholics, and to assist their cause ; not to 
accept peace without the consent of the Council, and to 
keep the articles, the particulars of which here follow : 
The first of these articles was, that the Catholics 
should hnvo the free exercise of their religion, as in 
the reign of Henry VII. ; the second, that the secular 
Roman Catholic Clergy of Ireland should enjoy their 
rights, as in the reign of the same King ; the third, 
that the penal laws passed since the year 1529, being 
the twentieth of the reign of King Henry VIII., 
should be done away with ; and the fourth, that the 
Roman Catholic Clergy should use the Churches and 
Benefices through the Kingdom, as the Protestant 


Clergy had done on the 1st of October 1641, with all 
tithes, &c., saving the rights of the Koman Catholic 

In 1648, as stated in Carte's Ormond, Owen 
O'Neill, and Einuncini, the Pope's Nuncio, having 
been averse to peace, canie to an open rupture with 
General Preston and his party ; and having lain at 
Maryborough with eight hundred men, they retired 
into Connaught and Ulster, where O'Neill's forces 
were principally quartered, in order to collect a strong 
army together. In his way, O'Neill made an attempt 
upon Birr, which was garrisoned by Sir Phelim 
O'Neill's men, who, with Lord Iveagh and MacDon- 
nell's regiments, had fallen off from the Ulster army. 
But Preston advancing with his troops, re-inforced by 
six hundred of Lord Inchiquin's horse, and some of 
Lord Taaffe's, raised the siege. 

Birr was taken from the Irish by General Ireton, 
in 1650. We learn from the History of the Irish 
Rebellion of 1641, that soon after the Bishop of 
Clogher's defeat at Londonderry, Ireton and Sir 
Charles Coote, joining their forces, appeared before 
Athlone to try if they could gain that garrison ; but 
finding the bridge broken down, and the town partly 
burned, Sir Charles Coote stayed there to straiten it; 
whilst Ireton, taking two castles in MacColocche's 
country, and also Birr (which the enemy had left and 
burned), presently seated himself before Limerick, 
where he received certain intelligence that the Mar- 
quis of Clanrikarde had" retaken the two castles, and 


laid siege to Birr, to the relief of which Colonel 
Axtell, Governor at Kilkenny, having joined the 
Wexford and Tippcrary forces at Roscrea, resolutely 
marched. Upon this the Marquis of Clanrikarde's . J , r 
troops retreated to the adjacent Island of Meelick, 
from whence they were beaten upon the 25th of 
October, with the loss of one thousand five hundred 
foot, and two hundred horse, besides waggons and 
baggage. In his History of the Civil Wars of Ireland, 
Taylor has the following short account of this occur- 
rence : "The Marquis of Clanrikarde made an attempt 
to relieve Birr, but was defeated with great loss, and 
this action terminated the campaign." 


Mr. WILLIAM PARSONS died in 1653, his death having 
been caused by the petrefaction of one of his kidneys, 
which is said to have been completely converted into 
stone, and to have been afterwards preserved in the 
Museum of Trinity College, Dublin. This William 
Parsons, by his will, made provision for an Almshouse 
in Birr, intended to have been kept up constantly for 
old people. The following, as to this bequest, is from 
Mr. Lodge's Peerage: "By his will, dated 17th of 
April 1650, he directs his son and heir, when the 
estate 'should be to him 1000 a-year, that he build 
an Almshouse for four old people, keeping the gift of 
each vacant place still in the heir of the house, allow- 
ing each poor house a garden and orchards fitted to 
their hands ; and each person twelvepence every Sun- 
day, and the grazing of two cows a-piece among the 
stock of the house, and free liberty to cut turf for firing 
for their houses, and every second year to give them a 
new red gown, with a badge on the right sleeve, with 
the arms of his (said son's), grandmother Parsons, his 
father's, and mother's ; every person to be placed there 
to be Protestants, and of English families, and to be in 
their gowns every Sunday, to keep the seats (where 


the heir of the family should sit) clean, and to wait 
at the door of the seats at his or their going in and 
coming out of the Church, forenoon and afternoon, 
and then to receive their twelvepence a-piece, which 
they are to forfeit in case of wilful absence. And 
desires that these houses might be built all under one 
roof, near or about the place where Patrick Condon's 
house stood, and the orchards and gardens to go 
upwards towards the green at Parsonstowu, it being 
near the Church and the dwelling-house, and (adds 
he), I charge him that his grandfather's and grand- 
mother's, and mine and his mother's arms may be set 
over the middle door of the house with this inscription: 
" This was built in memory of goodness." 

It seems from the foregoing, that the testator was 
very desirous the family arms should not be lost sight 
of, and also that he had not much liking for the Irish, 
amongst whom his father had made such an advanta- 
geous settlement, and from whom his income was 
principally to be drawn. This Almshouse appears to 
have been continued in 1670, for the old rental before- 
mentioned, contains the note of an agreement made that 
year by Sir Laurence Parsons with Eichard Jones, for 
a lease of a house and garden, and which provides 
that if Sir Laurence was "to hold his Almshouse 
thereat," he should have it. When or how this 
Almshouse was discontinued, or why it is not con- 
tinued, with some modifications, at the present time, 
does not appear. 

On the death of Mr. William Parsons, his son 


Laurence succeeded to the estates, and in 1677, he was 
created a baronet. The following is copiedN from 
entries made by Mr. Laurence Parsons, from 1660 to 
1663, in the old rental before referred to, and if not 
otherwise interesting, is at least curious, as affording 
information as to the manners of these long past 

" The names of Laurence Parsons, his children, 
theare godfathers and godmothers, and ye time when 
he married his wife. 

"August 14th, 1660, I married my wife. Her 
name was Frances Savage, daughter to Will: Savage 
of Castle Eebban, in ye County of Kildare, Esq r - We 
were married in Sheep Street, in Dublin, at Cap: 
Sankie his house, who is married to another sister. 

"The 8th of June (1661) my son William was 
borne in my castle of Parsonstowne about (12) a 
clocke at noone, being Saturday, and ye Wednesday 
after was christened by M r Well in ye church of 
Parsonstowne. His godfathers weare my wife's father- 
in-law, S r - Will: Fflower, and my brother-in-law, S r- 
Will: Parsons of Langly parke, in England, in Buck- 
inghamshire, but neither of y m - being heare, my 
brother Blunt and my cousen Will: Parsons stood for 
y m - My sister Sankie was his godmother. 

"The 29th of June (1662) my sone Savage was 
borne in my castle of Parsonstowne about (5) of ye 
clocke in ye afternoone, being Sonday, and ye Wed- 
nesday after was christened in my wife's chamber, 
being weake. His godfathers woare my cousen Eawsen 


and Cap: Peasly of Roskreagh. His godmother was 
my mother Fflower. Ye (23) of Nov r after, he died 
and was buried in ye church of Parsonstowne, neere 
my aunt Lowther. 

" The 13th of August (1663) my daughter Dorothy 
was borne in my castle of Parsonstowne. Her god- 
mothers weare M 18 - Cearle of Eglish, and M 1 " 8 Bullin of 
Roskreagh. Her godfather was Bishop Worth, 
Bishop of Killalooe. Lau: Parsons." 

Birr must have been a place of considerable trade 
about the year 1660, as several of those pieces of brass 
money or tradesmen's tokens which were used about 
that time were struck in it. Mr. Simon, in reference 
to this description of coin, says, "Before the Restora- 
tion, and during the Commonwealth and Cromwell's 
Government, no money was coined for the particular 
use of Ireland ; but divers persons in Dublin and 
other places of the kingdom, in order to supply the 
great scarcity of small change, coined copper tokens 
with their names and places of abode stamped on 
them, whereby they obliged themselves to make them 
good." He then enumerates some particular coins of 
this description, and proceeds, " All these tokens are 
made of brass or copper, not broader, but thinner, than 
our present farthings, and like so many promissory 
notes, passed for one penny each in the neighbourhood, 
and amongst the customers of those who issued them, 
whose names, together with the value (Id.), and their 
coat of arms, sign or cypher, are imprinted on their 
respective pieces." 


There are known to have been at least seven 
varieties of coin, such as alluded to by Mr. Simon, 
struck in Birr. Five of these are mentioned in the 
Catalogue of the Tradesmen's Tokens current in Ireland 
between the years 1637 and 1679, by Doctor Smith; 
and the writer of this account of Birr has met two 
other varieties of Birr tokens not mentioned in 
Doctor Smith's Catalogue. One of the Birr coins is 
impressed with three arrow-heads or pheons^ the 
armorial ensigns of the Archer family, with the name 
" Marcus Archer of Birr, Marchant." Another Birr 
coin is inscribed on one side, " R.A., 1667," around 
which is " Richard Archer," and on the reverse are 
the same arms as on the first-mentioned coin, sur- 
rounded by, " of Birr, Marchant." This coin clearly 
proves that the Archer family used for arms the 
pheons upwards of twenty years before they had a 
regular grant of them; for it was only in 1688 that 
the three pheons were for the first time charged upon 
the arms of that family by the herald, Dugdale. A 
third Birr coin has on it, "By Robert Jeffes of Birr, 
to pass for I.D.," and on the reverse, " In necessary 
change with labourers and others." A fourth has, 
" Thomas Langton," which is continued round the 
reverse in the words, " Birr, Marchant ; " and in the 
middle of the reverse is a thistle. There are two 
other varieties of Birr coin with the name of Thomas 
Langton, but each somewhat different from the one 
mentioned, and from each other. The seventh variety 
of Birr coin known is inscribed, " Michael Cantwell," 


and the arms on the reverse are surmounted by the 
letters, "M.C." within " of Birr, Marchant." 

With reference to some of the persons by whom 
these coins were issued, it appears from the rental of 
the Parsons family for the year 16C7, that Marcus 
Archer in that year held a house and garden in Birr, 
at a rent of 2, 10s., and a fine of two hens and two 
capons ; and in the same also appears the following 
entry : u Mr. Eobert Jeffs, for a park on ye Greene, 
with a fat hogg yearly, 4." This Eobert Jeffs' 
coin was probably struck prior to 1G74, for it seems 
he either died or left Birr then, as his parks appear 
to have been let by Sir Laurence Parsons to Eichard 
Bernard in that year, at the rent of 5, and a 
hundred of hops. Marcus Archer continued to live 
in Birr until 1686, but no mention of him occurs 
afterwards. It also appears from the rental referred 
to, that Thomas Langtonn became tenant to the Par- 
sons family in 1663, and his name is continued in 
every subsequent Eental to 1686 ; from which there 
is no mention of the holding until 1694, when " Lang- 
ton's Plots," appear paid for by the Widow Langtonn 
at the same rent, from which it is clear he had died 
prior to 1694. 

In Sir William Petty's Political Anatomy of Ire- 
/tnirl, published in 1672, the following places are 
mentioned amongst those then returning members to 
the Irish Parliament, viz. : King's County, two 
members ; and the Boroughs of " Phillippstown," 
"Byrr," and Banagher, two ninnlHTs each. 


In his book entitled The Interest of Ireland in its 
Trade and Wealth Stated, published in 1682, Eichard 
Laurence bears testimony to the trade of Birr at that 
period. In this work he says, that in a few years 
after May 1664, " We had erected by private persons, 
on their own accounts, many considerable manufac- 
tories. In Leinster Alderman Daniel Hutchenson, 
at Athy ; Earl of Arran, at Tullagh ; Lord Chancellor 
Eustace, at Baltinglass ; Esquire Parsons, at the 
Byrre, &o." 

It is said in King's State of the Protestants, that 
Colonel Garrett Moore was Lord Lieutenant of the 
King's County in 1687, and that Terence Coghlan, 
and Owen O'Carroll were Deputy Lieutenants, and 
that Birr was at the time the principal seat of 
Government of the County. In this statement, how- 
ever, there appears to be some anachronism. Hewar 
Oxburgh was Sheriff of the King's Countv in that 

o / 


The following account of events connected with 
Birr, which occurred in 1688, is taken principally 
from a "MS. Narrative of Sir L. Parsons, written in 
the time of King William III." At this period the 
country about Birr was infested by robbers and 
raparees, and particularly by one Fannin, with a 
strong party of desperadoes, who kept the neighbour- 
hood in perpetual alarm. In consequence of this, 
Sir Laurence Parsons received into Birr Castle at their 
request, about eighty of his tenants and neighbours, 
with their wives and children, and ordered the 


gates to be closed. Upon this Colonel, lately Captain 
Oxburgh, who had theretofore acted as agent to Sir 
Laurence Parsons, but was now his enemy, and 
serving under King James, reported to Lord Tyrcori- 
nell that Sir Laurence held a garrison against the 
King, and had fifteen hundred men in arms within 
his castle, and that he kept smiths there continually, 
manufacturing warlike implements. In consequence 
of this, Oxburgh got an order, dated 3rd of January 
1688, from the Lord Lieutenant to place a garrison in 
Birr Castle, although Colonel Garrett Moore, who 
had been sent by his lordship to make inquiries on 
the subject, had reported that the charges against Sir 
Laurence were unfounded. In about a month after 
getting the order, Oxburgh demanded possession of 
the castle, and on Sir Laurence declining to comply 
until he should hear from the Lord Lieutenant and 
Colonel Moore, Oxburgh and Colonel Grace besieged 
the castle, with twenty-two companies of infantry, 
and a troop of dragoons. The siege was closely kept 
up for several days and nights, so that no provision 
could be obtained by the besieged, and the besiegers 
having commenced to undermine the castle, terms of 
capitulation were finally agreed upon. The reader 
will find these articles (No. 9) in the Appendix. 

Upon the perfection of this treaty and consequent 
surrender of the castle, Sir Laurence and five of his 
principal tenants were arrested, and all six kept 
closely confined in the castle. In three days after 
the arrest of Sir Laurence, Mr. Jonathan Darby, of 


Leap, and his brother John Darby, were put in the 
same prison, charged with rescuing Captain Eichard 
Coote ; and Mr. Thomas Eoe was imprisoned with 
them at same time. 

On the 27th of March, the prisoners were sent to 
take their trial at Philipstown Assizes, and were 
informed of the charges upon which they were to be 
tried. These were as follows, viz : Sir Laurence 
Parsons and his tenants, John Philips, Philip Moore, 
Eandal Knight, James Bury, and James Eascoe for 
high treason, in keeping the garrison of Parsonstown 
against the King ; Jonathan and John Darby for high 
treason, in rescuing Captain Eichard Coote ; and 
Thomas Eoe for high treason, for holding the house 
of Ballinmoney against his Majesty. Of these Philip 
Moore was never indicted. 

The day of trial having arrived, and the evidence 
having closed, Sir Henry Lynch the Judge caused the 
articles of surrender to be read, and declared they 
were an overt act of high treason, and charged the 
jury to find all the prisoners guilty, and the jury 
soon agreed on a verdict against Sir Laurence, 
Jonathan Darby, and James Eascoe, but acquitted 
the rest. The trial took place on the 30th of March 
1689, and on the following Monday the convicts were 
brought up for judgment, and were sentenced to be 
hanged, drawn, and quartered. After reflection, 
however, the Judge reprieved Sir Laurence for a 
month, but refused to reprieve Darby, or Eascoe for 
more than ten days, and it was only by sending a 


solicitor to Dublin, that they also received a reprieve 
for a month. 

Upon the conviction of Sir Laurence, he was sent 
under escort to Birr, where he was imprisoned until 
the second of April 1690, during which period he 
was several times reprieved, and only escaped death, 
as King says, because it was not thought safe to 
execute him until the war was over. Sir Laurence 
was also attainted, as were likewise his son and 
brother, by the Parliament held in Dublin, under 
King James II., in 1689, and in which Colonel 
Oxburgh and Owen Carroll, already mentioned, sat 
as members for the King's County. 

It appears from the same "MS. Narrative of Sir 
Laurence Parsons," that at this time Colonel Oxburgh's 
regiment consisted of twenty-two companies, two of 
which were quartered in the castle, and the other 
twenty companies in the town of Birr ; as were like- 
wise Captain John Oxburgh's troop of dragoons, and 
a company of infantry, under Lieutenant Colonel 
Robert Grace. 

During these disasters, the Protestant minister of 
the parish, the Rev. Richard Crump, made away and 
deserted his flock ; whereupon the profits of the 
living were seized upon for the King by his Majesty's 
Receiver, Garrett Trant, who set the Glebe to the 
Rev. Thomas Kennedy, the then Roman Catholic 
Priest of the parish. He also set the tythes of the 
whole parish to the same tenant. This seizure was 
the first of the kind made in the King's County, or 


probably in Ireland; and in all likelihood would 
not have taken place, if the minister had kept his 

Soon after the Eev. Mr. Crump's flight, viz., on the 
28th of November 1689, Colonel Oxburgh's Officers 
went to the Clerk of the Parish, and with violent 
threats, demanded from him the key of the Church, 
which he was obliged to give them, and it was then 
handed over by them to the Eev. Mr. Kennedy. 
Thereupon the Eoman Catholic clergy were sum- 
moned, and attended in great numbers at the reconse- 
cration, or reconcilement of Birr Church, which cere- 
mony occupied several days. Mass was solemnized 
there, on the 5th of December following, and so, after- 
wards, continued to be until the Battle of the Boyne. 

In April 1689, Lord Tyrconnell sent Colonel Sars- 
field, with instructions to review the army, and to 
disband as many as he thought proper ; but so as to 
leave in each regiment at least thirteen companies. 
Colonel Sarsfield was an enlightened liberal man, 
above the prejudices of the day, and carried himself 
well towards all parties, making no distinction be- 
tween Protestant or Catholic, but courteously treating 
all alike. Upon Sarsfield's arrival in Birr, Oxburgh's 
regiment was drawn up on the Birr meadows, and 
several officers of distinction, and ladies of the neigh- 
bourhood, attended the review. While the Colonel 
was inspecting the troops, two soldiers threw down 
their appointments, and ran off from the ranks, upon 
which Sarsfield put off his jackboots, and pursued 


them. They were soon overtaken and brought 
back, and condemned to be shot; but Colonel 
Oxburgh's wife and daughter being near at hand in 
great pomp in their coach, threw themselves upon 
their knees, supplicating for mercy-, and the generous 
warrior Sarsfield, obliged to yield to their entreaties, 
forgave the culprits. Sarsfield having disbanded nine 
companies of Oxburgh's regiment at this review, 
went from thence to Portumna, where he disbanded 
forty -three companies of Lord Galway's corps, the 
men of which being left without means of support, 
were forced to become raparees and highwaymen. To 
make a slight digression, it may be mentioned here 
that the " MS. Narrative of Sir Laurence Parsons," 
states that the name " Eaparee," so common in former 
times, conies from a sort of half-pike, with which they 
used to be armed, and which the " Narrative " says, 
was, in Irish, called rapparee. However, Mr. O'Keilly, 
in his Dictionary, says, that " Eapaire " signifies " a 
noisy fellow," and which appears to be the more pro- 
bable derivation of the word. 

At this time, 1689, Colonel Oxburgh was appointed 
by the Government, Provost Marshall of the King's 
County. He showed his authority by riding through 
the country in great state, and causing gallows to be 
erected in several places. Amongst the rest he had 
a gallows with three pegs, put up in the street of 
Birr, which was then supposed to be intended for the 
execution of Sir Laurence Parsons, Mr. Jonathan 
Darby, and James Eascoc. This gallows was erected 


on May-day 1689, and was, therefore, ever after called 
Colonel Oxburgh's May-pole. At .jjHiinrone, he also 
caused another gallows to be erected, on which he 
hanged a poor man, because some mutton was found 
hidden in his garden. 

After Sir Laurence and the other convicts were 
brought from the Assizes, they were confined in Birr 
Castle, but the noise and insults of Oxburgh's soldiers 
there was so unsupportable, that they were obliged 
to have themselves removed to the common gaol of 

The fate of Oxburgh, according to the "Narrative" 
from which we have been quoting, was as follows : 
The Colonel died, and his regiment was given to his 
son Henry, but before his death, his wife (whose 
maiden name was Coghlan), and he had a dispute, 
which ended in their parting beds. One of his 
daughters, then about five-and-twenty years of age, 
and who was married to Lieutenant-Colonel Carroll, 
died suddenly, of apoplexy, in the middle of the night. 
The other daughter, who was married to Captain Pay, 
died of the small-pox, and two of their sons were 
killed at the battle of Aughrim. The eldest son 
joined King William the Third's army after the siege 
of Limerick, but being soon after disbanded, spent the 
remainder of his life with his mother, in poverty and 
distress. This lady, who was present at the battles of 
Athlone, Galway, and Limerick, was, after the decline 
of her fortune, obliged to return to her house at 
Boveen, near Birr, where she afterwards resided in a 


poor condition, and was forced to employ her coach 
in carrying' firewood .for sale into Bin*, to maintain 
herself and family. A doleful example is this of the 
instability of human greatness. 

Leaving for a while the " Narrative of Sir Laurence 
Parsons," we turn to some circumstances known from 
other sources concerning this Oxburgh family, so 
much mixed up in the history of Birr about this 
period. It appears by the old Eental of the Parsons 
family, before referred to, that Colonel Oxburgh held 
the lands of Crinkill, from Sir Laurence Parsons, in 
1669, at 60 a-year, and the lands of Newtown, at 
70 per annum. In a lease dated llth December 
1736, made by Mary Warren and others, to Thomas 
Dillon, of Kilcoleman, of the lands of Killenbrackan, 
not far from Birr, there is a recital that Henry 

xburgh, or, as he is there called, Oxbury (the 
Colonel's son), who was a life in the lease of these 
lands, was attainted and executed for high treason, 
a little subsequent to 1714. This deed states that by 
this Henry Oxburgh's attainder, these lands became 
vested in the crown. Oxburgh resided at Boveen, 
on the 28th of September 1707. Play fair's Irish 
Peerage states that Thomasina, daughter of " Hey- 
wood Oxburgh, of Bovine," was married to Thomas, 
son of Edward, son of Sir Thomas Loftus. 

To resume from the " Narrative." In the end of 
1689-90, an agreement was entered into between the 
English and Irish armies for an exchange of prisoners, 
and an order came from the King to Terence Coghlan. 


Esq., then High Sheriff of the King's County, to bring 
up Sir Laurence Parsons, and Eascoe, to Dublin. On 
the 2nd of April 1690, they accordingly set out for 
Dublin, and on the first day went as far as Ballyboy, 
from whence they reached Edenderry on the second 
day, Leixlip on the third, and on the 5th of April, 
they arrived in Dublin. Thus, it required, in these 
times, four days to travel from Birr to Dublin, which 
can now be done in less than as many hours. 

Sir Laurence having been kept a prisoner in Dublin 
for some time, was liberated after the Battle of the 
Boyne, fought on the 1st of July 1690 ; and upon the 
establishment of King William's Government in 
Ireland, he was appointed High Sheriff of the King's 
County. The country was then very unsafe, being 
full of the remains of the late King's army, and 
raparees, and it was the more unsafe to Sir Laurence, 
in consequence of there still being a large garrison of 
the Irish at Banagher, within a few miles of Birr. 
He was at this time also appointed a Commissioner of 
Array, the other Commissioners of Array for the 
King's County being, John Baldwin, jun., Daniel 
Graghan, William Purefoy, Samuel Eolls, Hector 
Yaughan, John Weaver, sen., Jonathan Darby, 
Humphrey Minchin, Archibald Adaire, Jeffery Lyons, 
John Beading, Eichard Warburton, sen., and Eichard 
Warburton, jun. Being thus authorized, Sir Laurence 
set out from Dublin for Birr, through a dangerous 
woody country full of raparees and strolling parties 
of the Irish soldiery. He brought with him ammuni- 


tion for the King's County Militia, and on his way, 
swore in several Justices of the Peace, by virtue of a 
dedimus given him by the Lord Commissioners. 

The following is also chiefly taken from the " MS. 
Narrative of Sir Laurence Parsons," already referred 

On the 8th of August, Sir Laurence, accompanied 
by Captain Theobald Burke, a younger son of the 
Earl of Castleconnell, and who was married to a kins- 
woman of Sir Laurence, arrived at Birr. At this 
time the Castle of Birr was garrisoned by the English, 
consisting of about eighty infantry, and a few dra- 
goons, under the command of Captain Curry, of 
Colonel Tiffan's regiment. The llth of August 1690, 
information was received that a party of horse from 
Banagher was approaching Birr, and had taken a 
great number of cattle, and part of the Birr garrison 
having thereupon sallied out, a skirmish took place 
between them, about ten o'clock in the morning. 
About twelve o'clock the same day, the Irish to the 
number of about one thousand horse and foot, under 
the command of Colonel Geoghegan, advanced to 
Burke's Hill, over Birr, and sent a summons to the 
castle, but after some parley they retired. 

Sir Laurence Parsons being then in Dublin, an 
Irish army consisting of seven battalions of foot, six 
regiments of horse, and four of dragoons, with a train 
of six pieces of artillery, and amounting in all, accord- 
ing to Harris's Life of William ///., to ten thousand 
men, began, on the ICth of September 1690, to make 



their appearance in the neighbourhood of Burke's Hill. 
Upon this a drum was beat to recall the soldiers 
belonging to the castle, who were amusing themselves 
in the town, and Ensign Ball, with twenty infantry, 
and a serjeant, was sent to occupy the steeple of the 
church; and Lieutenant Newstead was sent with 
r (L another party, to observe the enemy's approach, and 
7 (I clear the neighbouring hedges. An officer with a few 
A,. Jl horse soon appeared, and informed him that Colonel 

y Sarsfield, the Duke of Berwick, and Lord Galway, 
were advancing to attack the castle. The main body 
t|l t of the Irish remained on Burke's Hill, and a consider- 
able body of cavalry was sent to Nicholson's Park, 
near a place called the Raelane, and another party to 
the top of Drumbawn Hill. After sometime the 
infantry marched towards the castle, with a twelve- 
pounder, a six-pounder, and a three-pounder, and 
with colours flying, trumpets sounding, drums beating 
and bagpipes playing. When they arrived at that part 
of the Green, where Mr. Cooke's house now stands, 
within musket shot of the castle, they planted their 
battery against it. In the commencement of the 
attack, the besieged hoisted a bloody flag on the top 
of the castle, being determined to hold out. Seeing 
^ this Colonel Sarsfield addressed his officers, and for 
reasons given by him, endeavoured to dissuade them 
from the attack. Colonel Oxburgh, however, begged 
that the castle might be laid in rubbish, so as to force 
the garrison to submit. Upon this the place was again 
summoned to surrender, and Captain Curry having 


refused to yield, the Irish Commanders, about two 
o'clock in the afternoon, began firing their great guns. 
The first shot broke a hole in the roof of the castle, 
and made a great noise. At the commencement of 
the attack, the town's-people fled to the castle, and 
the enemy entered and plundered the town. While 
approaching to form their battery, the Irish were 
greatly annoyed by the fire of small arms, and par- 
ticularly by that from Ensign Ball's detachment in the 
top of the steeple of the Church, which was situated on 
an eminence, partly between the castle and the Irish. 
'Sarsfield in the first place lined with infantry the 
hedges about the Green, Godsell's Park, and behind 
the Almshouse, which then stood between the Church 
and the Green. The fire from these was very annoy- 
ing, although it did no execution, unless to kill the 
sergeant of Ensign Ball's party, who exposed himself 
too much above the battlements of the steeple. After 
the first fire from the artillery, the besiegers beat a 
parley, which had no good result, and the action re- 
commenced and continued until sunset, during which 
time the fire from the artillery, and of small arms from 
the hedges, which was briskly answered by sharp and 
thick vollies from the castle and steeple, resembled a 
continual roar of thunder. Lord Galway and several 
other officers got into the Market-house, which 
fronted the castle, and from thence they kept up a 
galling fire with fusees against the doors and windows, 
so that the besieged could not stir in any of the front 
rooms. The enemy's great guns being burst, and 


their engineer killed at the setting of the sun, they 
drew off their cannon with some difficulty, and retired 
to Burke' s Hill. The "Narrative of Sir Laurence 
Parsons," from which this is taken, adds that the 
besiegers lost sixty men, and the besieged only one 
man, and that the Irish broke up their camp, and 
marched away from Burke' s Hill during the night. 
The writer of this work, however, does not vouch for 
the accuracy of the " Narrative." 

In his Life of William ///., Harris states that upon 
the first news of the attack on Birr by Sarsfield, Sir 
John Lanier marched ' to dislodge him, but Sarsfield 
retired on his approach, the tidings of which occa- 
sioned Sir John to return to his former quarters ; 
whereupon Sarsfield again invested the castle, as has 
been just described. At length Lieutenant- General 
Douglas,* Major-General Kirk, and Sir John Lanier, 
with a strong body of forces, both horse and foot, 
advanced with a resolution not only of disturbing the 
siege, and throwing relief into the castle, but also 
with an intention to drive Sarsfield beyond the Shan- 
non, and break down the bridge of Banagher, so as to 
prevent his incursions in future over that pass. 

General Douglas arrived in Birr about three o'clock 
in the afternoon of the 18th, marched through the 
town, and encamped upon Burke's Hill. On the 
19th he found Sarsfield very advantageously posted, 
about two miles beyond the town, amongst bogs and 
fastnesses, and was resolved to attack him, but Sarsfield 
retired to a place of more security beyond the Shannon. 


Although the principal design of this expedition was 
upon the bridge of Banagher, the attempt to break it 
down was found to be too hazardous, as the enemy 
was not only very strong on the Connaught bank of 
the river, but the bridge was defended by a castle, 
and another work which protected it on two sides. 
The English army therefore returned to Birr, where 
they encamped for ten or twelve days, to countenance 
the people employed in fortifying with sodworks 
the town, which had previously been open and 

To resume from the " Narrative of Sir Laurence 
Parsons." The fortifications and trenches around Birr 
were commenced on Saturday, and twelve hundred men 
were employed at them on Sunday, and six or seven 
hundred men constantly afterwards for eight or ten days. 
Both gables of the Sessions-house were pulled down, 
and all the hedges, ditches and orchards within the 
works levelled, and the wood converted into fascines 
for the fortifications. On Major- General Kirk's 
arrival, his first act was to order all the Eoman 
Catholics in the town to be seized, and imprisoned in 
the Market-house, where they remained confined for 
three or four days, until they became bound, one for 
another, for their good behaviour, and that they would 
not depart the town. Kirk's next act was to order 
Lord Lisburn to burn all the houses between the town 
and Kacalier-bridge, to prevent the enemy from 
taking shelter in them. The town itself did not fare 
much better. Most of the houses without the fortifi- 


cations were pulled down for fireing by the soldiery, 
although there was turf enough upon the bogs near at 
hand. As to this Lord Lisburn, whose name was 
Adam Loftus, we learn from Crossley's peerage that 
he was created Lord Viscount Lisburne, by James II., 
in 1685, and was killed on the 15th September 1691, 
by a cannon ball, in his tent before Limerick, at the 
siege, " for the tent stood too near the trenches." He 
is buried in St. Patrick's choir, Dublin, to the right 
of the communion table, joining the Earl of Cork's 
monument, and the cannon ball that killed him hangs 
up over his burial place. Thus Lord Lisburn was 
killed fighting against the King, to whom he was 
indebted for his title. 

During their stay in Birr, King William's army 
not only burned the country round, but bread being 
scarce with them, they made that a pretext for strip- 
ping and rpbbing many of the Irish who had taken 
protection ; which infamous practice, says Mr. Harris, 
in the Life of William ///., forced these people to go 
out upon their keeping, and turn raparees, and raised 
great numbers of enemies to King William, that 
would otherwise have remained quiet. This statement 
of Mr. Harris as to the ill-conduct of King William's 
army, is confirmed by the fact of the Lord Justices 
having been at length obliged to issue orders for 
preventing such atrocities. In the Appendix (No. 11), 
will be found a list of persons whose property in and 
about Birr was destroyed at this time by the English 
and Irish armies. 


After the siege, the standing garrison of Bin- 
consisted, according to the " Narrative " already men- 
tioned, of three regiments of foot, under the command 
of Major Collier, who governed the castle. Sir 
Laurence's son, Captain William Parsons, commanded 
a troop of Militia cavalry in the town, and his brother 
was posted in Carolanty House. The Irish occa- 
sionally made sallies from their quarters at Banagher, 
and annoyed the town, but without doing any consi- 
derable damage. After the battle of Aughrim, the 
English army marched to besiege Limerick, and the 
Irish quitted the fort of Banagher, of which Major 
Collier immediately took possession, and stationed 
himself there ; while Captain Parsons, with his troop, 
took Cloghan Castle, in which he left a garrison, 
under the command of Lieutenant Archibald 
Armstrong, and returned to Birr with the remainder 
of his men. The English army passed through Birr 
on their way to Limerick in 1691, and converted the 
castle into an hospital, leaving there four hundred 
sick and wounded men, who remained in it nearly two 

Sir Laurence Parsons died in 1698, and his eldest 
son, Sir William, the second Baronet, succeeded him. 
This Sir William represented the King's County in 
the Irish Parliament in 1704, and in several successive 
Parliaments, and died in 1740. He was succeeded by 
his grandson Sir Laurence, the third Baronet who, in 
November 1741, was also chosen to represent the 
King's County. On the death of this last-mentioned 


Sir Laurence in 1749, he was succeeded by Sir 
William, the fourth Baronet, who died in 1791. 
This Sir William held the rank of General in the 
Irish Volunteers, and on his death his eldest son Sir 
Laurence, the fifth Baronet, succeeded him; and on 
the death of his uncle without male issue, this Sir 
Laurence also succeeded as second Earl of Eosse, on 
the 27th of May 1807. It is almost unnecessary to 
mention that this was the late Laurence, Earl of 
Eosse, who died in March 1841. 


IN 1747, Cumberland Pillar was erected in the Square, 
in the town of Birr. It was built by subscription, in 
commemoration of the battle of Culloden. This pillar 
is of the Doric order, is forty-seven feet high, and sur- 
mounted by a statue of the Duke of Cumberland, 
seven feet and a half in height. The statue was pro- 
cured and set up at the expense of the Sir Laurence 
Parsons of the time. It was executed by Cheere of 
London, the same artist who executed the monument 
in memory of the Earl of Cork, on the north side of 
the altar in Christ's Church, Dublin. There was 
formerly a fosse with water surrounding this pillar in 
Cumberland Square, Birr ; the water having been 
conveyed to it by a channel from a higher part of the 
Birr river, between the town and Syngfield. 

The Birr Freemasons' Lodge was also established in 
the year 1747. The warrant is from Sir Marmaduke 
Wyville, Baronet, Grand Master, and John Putland, 
Deputy Grand Master, to William Macoun, Thomas 
Nethercott, and James Armstrong, the first Master 
and Wardens. The warrant is No. 163, and bears 
date the 15th July A.D. 1747, and year of Masonry, 
5747. There was another warrant issued in 1847 


just one hundred years after for holding a Eoyal 
Lodge in Birr. The Birr Freemasons' Lodge con- 
tinues to prosper, and from time to time there have 
been included amongst the members some of the most 
respectable inhabitants of the neighbourhood. 

When the spirit of freedom was abroad in all other 
parts of the kingdom, some twenty-five years after the 
period last referred to, the King's County, including 
Birr and the neighbourhood in particular, was not 
inactive. We accordingly find, beginning in 1776, 
the following Volunteer Corps formed about that time 
in the King's County, Sir William Parsons being 
General : 

1. The Parsonstown Loyal Independents ; associated 
the 15th of February 1776. Scarlet faced black; 
silver lace. Colonel Sir William Parsons, Baronet. 
Major L. Parsons (afterwards Earl of Eosse). Cap- 
tain B. B. Warburton. Lieuts. Treacy and Kear- 
ney. Surgeon William Wilkinson. 

2. Edenderry Union; associated May 1st, 1777. 
Scarlet faced black. Captains Shaw Cartland, and 
Digby Berkeley. 

3. Barony Rangers; associated March 17th, 1778. 
Scarlet faced black. Colonel Andrew Armstrong. 
Captain Eobert Shervington. 

4. Tullamore True Blues ; associated October 28th, 
1778. Scarlet faced blue; silver lace. Colonel 
Charles William Bury (afterwards Earl of Charle- 

5. Dunkerrin Volunteers; associated June 20th, 


1779. Scarlet faced black. Colonel James Franck 

6. Mountain Rangers; associated August 15th, 
1779. Scarlet faced black. Colonel Bernard. Major- 
George Clarke. Captain John Drought. 

7. Eglish Rangers ; associated August 29th, 1779. 
Scarlet faced black ; silver epaulets. Major Thomas 
Berry. Captain John Drought. Lieutenant and 
Adjutant J. C. Clarke. 

8. Leap Independents ; associated March 17th, 1780. 
Blue faced blue, edged white. Colonel Jonathan 

A meeting of delegates from several volunteer 
corps was held at Birr on the 3rd of September 1781, 
at which Colonel Rolleston presided. Upon this 
occasion it was resolved first, That Ireland was an 
independent kingdom, and could only be bound by 
laws enacted by the King, Lords, and Commons of 
Ireland ; secondly, That a Perpetual Mutiny Bill was 
a measure of most dangerous tendency, as it vested a 
power in the Crown inconsistent with the liberties of 
the subject ; thirdly, That the law passed in the tenth 
of Henry VII., commonly called Poigning's Law, was 
unconstitutional, as the Parliament in which it was 
enacted was a partial representation of the people, and 
also, as it presumed to give away their rights, which 
the meeting apprehended exceeded the power of Par- 
liament ; fourthly, That for the more impartial distri- 
bution of justice, it was proper that the Commission 
of the Judges should be during good behaviour. 


These resolutions not having produced the desired 
effect, another meeting was held in Birr on the" 20th 
of March 1782, at which delegates from no^less than 
seventeen corps attended. Sir William Parsons hav- 
ing been called to the chair, and the resolutions 
adopted by the meeting of the previous September 
read, the following resolutions were passed unani- 
mously, viz. : 

First Eesolution. That we view the virtuous endea- 
vours of this kingdom to ascertain and establish her 
just rights and privileges with sincere joy, flowing 
from hearts inviolably attached to its true interest 
and happiness. 

Second Eesolution. That we have reason to expect 
that the liberal spirit of Parliament towards the 
Eoman Catholics of this kingdom, by emancipating 
them from restraints, which we are happy to think 
are no longer necessary, will be attended with the 
most beneficial consequences to this country, as 
nothing can contribute so much to increase the pros- 
perity and secure the independency of this kingdom 
as a cordial union amongst its inhabitants of every 
religious denomination. 

Third Eesolution. That, actuated by the most 
sincere loyalty towards our sovereign, it is our duty 
to declare our determined resolution to support his 
Majesty with our lives and fortunes against the 
natural enemies of Great Britain and Ireland ; and to 
defend his Majesty's kingdom of Ireland against the 
enemies of our King and Constitution. 


Fourth Resolution. That we will co-operate with 
the other Volunteer Associations in such measures, 
guided by prudence and supported with firmness, as we 
conceive may most effectually tend to restore and con- 
firm the Constitution and Commerce of this kingdom. 

Fifth Resolution. That the thanks of this meeting 
be presented to our worthy chairman, Sir William 
Parsons, Baronet, for his propriety of conduct and 
polite attention throughout the proceedings of this 

These resolutions were signed by Thomas Berry, 
Esq., who acted as secretary to the meeting. 

On the 20th of September 1784, several volunteer 
corps were reviewed by General Sir William Parsons, 
at Woodfield, near Birr. The right wing was formed 
of the cavalry in the following order, viz., the Offer- 
lane Blues, under Colonel Luke Flood, on the ex- 
treme right; the Lorha Rangers, under Captain 
Firman, in the centre ; and the Clanrikard Chasseurs, 
under Colonel O'Moore, on the left. The centre divi- 
sion of the army, commanded by Colonel Richard 
Croasdale, was composed of the Mountmellick corp of 
infantry, Colonel Lord Viscount Carlow; the Eglish 
Rangers, under Major Thomas Berry; the Mary- 
borough Fusileers, Colonel Sir John Parnell, Bart. ; 
and the Eyrecourt Buffs, Colonel Giles Eyre; 
flanked upon the right by the Parsonstown Artillery 
and Mountmellick Grenadiers, and upon the left by 
the Mountmellick Light Company. The left wing, 
commanded by Colonel Thomas Bernard, junior, was 


composed of the Parsonstown Loyal Independents, 
Colonel Sir William Parsons; the Clanrikard 
Brigade, Colonel Darcy ; and the Mountain Eangers, 
Colonel Thomas Bernard, junior ; flanked upon the 
right by the Parsonstown Grenadiers, and upon the 
left by the Parsonstown Light Company and Parsons- 
town Artillery. The old name of Woodfield, where 
this review took place, was Tullanaskeagh, meaning 
the rising ground near the water. The old dwelling- 
house here was burned during the war of 1641. 

On the 12th of November 1787, there was a great 
flood in the Birr river, the most impetuous and 
highest known, either by history or tradition, to have 
ever occurred. This river, as already mentioned, has 
been always noted for sudden and impetuous floods ; 
but on this occasion it rose to a most unusual height, 
swept away the old bridge which theretofore crossed 
the river at Brendan's Well, and inundated many 
houses in the town. A record of this flood remained 
at a late period on the oaken staircase of one of the 
houses on the present old bridge of Birr, where 
there was a mark with an inscription, showing that 
this flood rose to the unprecedented height of seven 
feet over the usual level of the river. 

In February 1797, the first Assistant Barrister and 
Chairman was appointed for the King's County, under 
the Civil Bill Act, passed the previous year for the 
first time in Ireland. Henry Doyel of Kildare Street, 
Dublin,' Esq., Barrister-at-law, was the gentleman 
then appointed, and he presided soon after at the first 


Quarter Sessions ever held in Birr. What eminent 
lawyers have presided, and numerous disputes been 
decided ; and what curious scenes have taken place 
at the Quarter Sessions of Birr during the time 
elapsed since the year 1797 ! 

The disturbances did not reach any very alarming 
height in Birr or the neighbourhood during the re- 
bellion of 1798 ; but still, great religious animosity 
prevailed, and some cruelties were practised there to 
extort confessions from those supposed capable of giv- 
ing information. Sir Laurence Parsons at this time took 
no active part in affairs in Birr, which so offended 
some persons in it, that they denounced him as a 
rebel. They even carried their views so far as to 
move a vote of censure against him in the Grand Jury 
of the Quarter Sessions Court, held in Birr in that 
year. The names of those composing that Jury are 
still on record in the Peace Office of the King's County, 
or at least were some years ago. One gentleman on 
the Jury opposed the proceedings, but after much alter- 
cation, the vote against Sir Laurence was passed in 
the absence of the dissenting Juror. The only thing 
done by Sir Laurence to bring this censure upon him 
seemed to be his having declined to identify himself 
with the violent party ; and also because he had 
shortly before saved from transportation several per- 
sons tried by court-martial, including two men named 
Fitzpatrick, from Boveen, near Birr, one of whom, 
Patrick Fitzpatrick, afterwards kept a shop in 


About the same time, and owing to like causes, a 
petition to Government against Sir Laurence Parsons 
was prepared amongst the Protestants of Birr, and 
was almost universally signed by them, even to Peter 
Singen, the Birr bellman, who was chaired through 
the town in derision to Sir Laurence. The signature 
of Peter Singen, however, was affixed to the petition 
as " Lord Maxwell," and the discovery of this threw 
discredit on the whole transaction. One respectable 
Protestant gentleman of the town not only refused to 
take any part in these proceedings against Sir Laurence, 
but he more than once saved him from personal violence 
at the hands of drunken yeomanry. In after years, 
when Sir Laurence had become Earl of Eosse, he still 
acknowledged his ol}ligation to this gentleman, and to 
his widow and family after his death, as appears from 
letters and documents yet in existence. Soon after 
these occurrences in Birr, Sir Laurence was stopped 
by the yeomanry at the Five Alley, a few miles from 
Birr, through which place then lay the road from Birr 
to Dublin, where Sir Laurence was going. Arthur 
Parkinson, of Whigsborough, was the man then on 
guard at the Five Alley, who stopped Sir Laurence 
until he procured a pass. 

In the Summer of 1798, Charles Slavin was tried in 
the old Market-house of Birr, on a charge of having 
poisoned one Jackson, his master. Both were from 
Grange, in the neighbourhood of Birr. Slavin, having 
been found guilty, was hanged, or rather strangled, 
at the old gaol of Birr, his executioner being a person 


named Lindsay. The prisoner was first suspended on 
a platform between two cars, and was afterwards 
drawn up from the ground by a rope from one of 
the windows, while still endeavouring to cling to the 
wall with his hands. 

At this time also one Morressy, a Roman Catholic 
cavalry sergeant, of the Dunkerrin Yeomen, was tried 
by court-martial of yeomen in this old market-house 
of Birr, on a charge of supplying the rebels with arms 
and ammunition. Morressy having been found guilty, 
was shot, pursuant to sentence, at the Harrow, near 
Eathmore, by twelve of his own corps, who at first 
refused to shoot him. There were three regiments of 
regular troops present, with all the yeomanry of 
the country. The prisoner was accompanied by 
a priest in a carriage from the old gaol of Birr, and 
sat with the clergyman on a bank at the place of 
execution, engaged in prayer for about an hour and a 

Mr. Thomas Doolan, of Boveen, near Birr, was 
murdered in his own house, about this period, and 
two or three persons were hanged for it. It appeared 
Doolan' s servant boy betrayed him, and made a signal 
to the party outside, by changing a light, and he 
also left the door open for them to walk in. Persons 
named Loughnane, Broder, and Carroll were impli- 
cated in this very cruel murder, and it was said that 
one of the party actually lifted Doolan' s child from 
his knee, in order to murder the father. The accused 
parties were tried at Philipstown Assizes, and two or 



three of them were executed at their own doors, at 
Newtown, not far from Birr. 

Soon after this several persons were flogged in 
Birr, namely Flanagan, of Burkes Hill, for stealing 
wool ; Grady, a labourer, for stealing flour from Mr. 
Palmer's mill; and one Lamb, for stealing a shirt. 
They were flogged by Moses Lindsay, and in reference 
to this transaction, a local poet composed the follow- 
ing at the time : 

" Through Moses the law was of yore handed down, 

Prohibiting 1 robbing and stealing ; 
By Moses each thief now is whipp'd thro' the town, 
When honesty's found to be failing." 

The next remarkable event which presents itself in 
regard to Birr, was of such a public, or rather 
natorious nature, as to have been brought before the 
notice of the then expiring Irish Parliament. For 
the purpose of accomplishing a legislative Union 
between Great Britain and Ireland, every means was 
resorted to by those favourable to that measure. In 
the opening of the year 1800, it was rumoured that a 
meeting of magistrates and freeholders would be held 
in Birr to petition against the Union. Upon hearing 
this report, Major Eogers, who then commanded the 
artillery in Birr, declared he would disperse the 
meeting by force, if they attempted to assemble, and 
he added, that he had applied to Government for 
instructions. Some days after this several magistrates 
and respectable inhabitants assembled in the old 
market- house, then the sessions house of Birr, upon 


which Mr. Darby, High Sheriff of the County, went 
and ordered them to disperse, intimating at the same 
time, that if they did not do so, he would compel 
them. As the meeting was thereupon about to dis- 
perse, a gentleman named Wilson, came and informed 
them that the army was approaching. The assembly, 
however, voted the resolutions, but did not wait to 
sign them ; and as they left the sessions house, they 
saw a column of troops marching towards it, with 
four pieces of cannon in front, and matches lighting, 
and showing every disposition for an attack upon the 
sessions house, which was such an old building, that 
if it had been struck by a cannon shot it must have 
fallen, and buried those assembled in the ruins. 
Major Eogers on being spoken to on the subject of his 
approaching in that hostile manner, answered that he 
waited but a word from the Sheriff, and he would 
blow them all to atoms ! In a few days afterwards, 
Sir Laurence Parsons complained to the Irish House 
of Commons, of this transaction, which he designated 
as the greatest enormity, a high infringement upon 
the privileges of Parliament, and a violation of the 
liberties of the subject. He then proposed two resolu- 
tions to the House, to the following effect : " First, 
that to prevent by military force the freeholders of 
any County from meeting to petition Parliament, is a 
gross violation of the privileges of this House, and a 
subversion of the constitution. Secondly, that Verny 
Darby, Esq., and Major Eogers do attend at the bar 
of this House, on Wednesday next." Mr. Bowes 


Daly seconded the motion, and reprobated such vio- 
lent conduct, hoping that the country members would 
make a common cause of it. Lord Castlereagh, in 
reply, said that he had never before heard a word on 
the subject, and on part of the Government he dis- 
claimed any connection with the alleged conduct of 
the Sheriff of the King's County ; and he also found 
fault with the manner in which Sir Laurence had 
brought the subject before the House. In the end, 
however, Mr. Darby and Major Rogers were ordered 
to attend at the bar of the House; but it appears, that 
on their doing so, their conduct was applauded rather 
than censured, and it was well known that soon after- 
wards both of them were appointed to good situations. 
This transaction is fully detailed in Plowden's History 
of Ireland. 


IN 1803, Henry Doyel, Esq., the first Assistant Bar- 
rister for the King's County, died, and Thomas Clare 
Parsons, Esq., Barrister-at-Law, and brother of Sir 
Laurence Parsons, was appointed to succeed him, and 
Mr. Parsons held the office until his death in 1825. 

The building of Birr Barracks was commenced in 
1809, and completed in three years. These barracks 
were intended to accommodate two regiments of 
infantry, and were built by Mr. Bernard Mullins. The 
present Sessions House and Bridewell of Birr, were 
erected about the same time. 

In December 1812, a great meeting of "The pro- 
testant inhabitants of the King's County," convened 
by George Drought, Esq., the High Sheriff, was held 
in Birr, " to pronounce " on the claims for religious 
equality, which were then being made by the Eoman 
Catholics of Ireland. This meeting, with other 
resolutions adverse to the Roman Catholics, passed 
the following: " Resolved that as it has been asserted 
by oui' Roman Catholic fellow subjects, in various 
publications, that the majority of the Protestants of 
Ireland approve of an unqualified and unconditional 


repeal of all the laws which affect the Eoman Catholic 
body, we deem it necessary to declare that this is 
not our sentiment, and we believe that but a very 
small portion of the Protestants of this Island are of 
that opinion." The meeting finally resolved that 
petitions be prepared for both Houses of Parliament, 
expressive of the sentiment contained in the resolu- 
tions. It is right to mention, that Messrs. Maurice 
N. O'Connor, of Mount Pleasant ; Armstrong, of Gal- 
len; and "Warburton of Garryhinch, with Colonel 
O'Moore, all attended this meeting, and, on part of their 
Eoman Catholic fellow countrymen, protested against 
and opposed the proceedings, but in vain. The Par- 
sonstown Gazette newspaper, published in Birr at the 
time, by Mr. Joseph Bull, contained a full report of 
this remarkable, but illiberal, meeting. 

The Protestant Church, now so great an ornament 
to Birr, was built in the year 1815. This very fine 
and handsome edifice, is said to have originally cost 
8,000, and there have been several improvements 
made in and about it since. The Protestant Church 
of Birr has for many years been remarkable lor the 
numerous and respectable congregation attending 
there. In it are several nice cenotaphs, amongst 
which is conspicuous, one commemorating Laurence, 
Earl of Eosse, who died in 1841. One of the Com- 
munion cups is old and very interesting, and bears the 
following inscription : " The Communion cup of the 
Parishe Churche of Parsonstowne, in the King's 
Countie, Anno Domini, 1636." The paten or cover 


is inscribed, " The cover of the Communion Cup 
of Parsonstowne, 1636." It has been seen (p. 48), 
that Eobert Sheeply was Vicar of Birr, in the year 
1627, and, from an entry in the rental already 
referred to, there appears to have been a lease 
of 53 acres of land near Birr, made to him 
as " Eobert Sheepley, Clarke," on the 8th of 
July 1626. The Eev. Marcus M'Causland is now, 
and for many years has been, the respected Eector 
of Birr. 

In 1817, the present " Oxmantown Bridge " was 
erected at Birr, after the design of a bridge over the 
river Anio, in Italy, which design was selected by 
the then Earl of Eosse. The name it bears was given 
the new bridge in honour of Baron Oxmantown, the 
Earl's heir apparent. Mr. Michael Downey, mason, 
was the builder of this bridge originally, but the 
arches were lowered by Grand Jury presentment, in 
1855. As the appellation Oxmantown is connected 
with Birr in different ways, it may be well to mention 
that this word seems to be a corruption for " Osman- 
town," which name was given to a green formerly 
on the north side of Dublin, and including some of 
the northern parts of the City. This green was 
inhabited by Danes, who were sometimes called Ost- 
men, or men of the East, from whence it took its 
name. There were great feats of archery performed 
there by the notorious robber, Eobin Hood, in 1189, 
as stated by Hollinshed in his Chronicles. A con- 
siderable portion of this place belonged to the first 


Lord Eosse, and hence he took the title of Viscount 
from it. 

The foundation stone of the present very fine 
Roman Catholic Church of Birr, was laid on the 1st 
of August 1817. There were then several coins 
deposited in this foundation stone, as also a brass 
plate, with the following inscription : " On Friday 
the 1st of August 1817, the first stone of this chapel, 
named St. Brendan's Chapel, and dedicated to the 
worship of Almighty God, was laid by William, Lord 
Oxmantown, in presence of his father, the Right 
Hon. Laurence, Earl of Rosse, the Rev. Philip 
Meagher, P.P., the Committee appointed to superin- 
tend the building of it, and a large concourse of 
parishioners, who assembled on the occasion." The 
building of the Birr Roman Catholic Church was 
finished on the 1st of August 1824, just seven years 
after it was commenced, but in some years after it 
was considerably altered and remodeled, while the 
Very Rev. John Spain, V.G., was Parish Priest. 
To this very rev. gentleman, the parish is also 
indebted for the beautiful stained glass window behind 
the altar in this church, as also for the erection of 
the very elegant convent adjoining, and the great 
advantage to the town and neighbourhood, from 
the presence of the good and religious ladies who 
inhabit it. 

The Very Rev. Mr. Spain died on the 10th of May 
1848, and was buried on the east side of the altar 
in the church which he so much improved. Above 


his remains is a handsome mural tablet, with the 
following appropriate inscription : " Sacred to the 
memory of the Very Eev. John Spain, P.P., of Birr, 
who died of fever, on the 10th of May 1848, in the 
52nd year of his age. In him the church lost a 
bright ornament, his country a distinguished advocate, 
and the poor their best friend and supporter. This 
temple remodeled and ornamented, and the convent of 
the Sisters of Mercy, erected by him, will be lasting 
memorials of his zeal for the glory of God, and the 
interests of the poor. May he rest in peace." It 
could with truth be added, that the very rev. 
deceased had been a true and faithful friend, and an 
accomplished scholar. 

On the opposite side of the altar is a somewhat 
similar and also very handsome tablet, erected by the 
Eoman Catholic Clergy of the Diocese to the memory 
of the late Eight Eev. Dr. Kennedy, Eoman Catholic 
Bishop of Killaloe, who had been Parish Priest of 
Birr for a considerable time. The Eight Eev. Dr. 
Kennedy died at Birr in 1850, and was interred in 
the Eoman Catholic Church there. The present altar 
in this church was erected to the memory of the late 
Very Eev. John Egan, Parish Priest of Birr, who died 
in October 1870. This is a very fine work, and is 
chiefly composed of Caen stone, beautifully moulded. 
The Gothic shafts are of Irish red marble, highly 
polished, and the altar table is Sicilian marble. The 
principal piece the " Pieta " represents the dead 
Christ, with the "Mater Dolor osa" in a kneeling 


attitude. The entire reflects great credit on the native 
artists by whom it was executed. The Very Eev. Mr. 
Egan, deceased, has been succeeded by the Very Eev. 
Michael Bugler, Y.GL, the present respected Parish 
Priest of Birr. 

The following may be interesting in connexion 
with Birr Eoman Catholic Church : 

It has been seen (p. 76) that the Eev. Thomas 
Kennedy was Eoman Catholic Parish Priest of Birr in 
1689, and that as such he was for some time in pos- 
session of the old Church of Birr, and so continued 
until after the battle of the Boyne. In conse- 
quence of political changes, and the oppressive state 
of the law, it became necessary soon after this time for 
Eoman Catholic Parish Priests to be registered, with 
the names of their sureties and other particulars. "We 
accordingly find the Eev. William Shaghnussy thus 
registered as Parish Priest of " Birr, Loughkeen, and 
Kilcoleman," at a General Sessions, held at Philips- 
town, on the 10th of July 1704, being the reign of 
Queen Anne, and that he was so returned to the 
Council Office, Dublin. The other necessary particu- 
lars then given were, that he resided at Birr, was 
sixty years of age, and had been ordained at Dublin in 
1667, by Patrick Plunkett, Bishop of Ardagh, and 
that his sureties were, " Michael Archer, of Birr, 
Merchant, and Luke Usher, of the same." 

It appears (p. 70) that members of the Archer 
family were resident in Birr at an early date, but there 
is -scarcely any family whose connexion with Birr can 


be traced for such a length of time to a few years 
back, as that of Usher. The name of this very res- 
pectable old family was originally Neville, but we learn 
that one of the family having been usher to King John, 
the name was changed to that of the office, as was then 
frequently done. Some of the family, from whom was 
descended the celebrated Archbishop Usher, came 
with King John to Ireland, and we find a Robert 
Usher settled in Birr in 1690, and that his house 
was burned there during the troubles of that period. 
An ancestor of Luke Usher, of 1704, named Noble 
Luke Usher, was settled at Gurteen, in the County of 
Tipperary, not far from Birr, about the year 1798. 
He was married to a lady of the very respectable 
family of Lalor, of the County Tipperary, and having 
been a Justice of the Peace in these troubled times, 
he so conducted himself as to be named, and still re- 
membered as "the poor man's friend." The younger 
brother of this gentleman was father of the late Noble 
Luke Usher, of Birr, who is yet remembered, and his 
name respected, by many of the inhabitants. He was 
chairman of a public meeting of Roman Catholics at 
Birr, held on the 24th of February 1833, to petition 
against the threatened introduction of martial law into 
Ireland. Joseph F. Usher, M.D., now of Ballarat 
City, Australia, is son of the late Noble Luke Usher, 
of Birr, and there are few who know the family and 
its connexion with Birr, but wish him success in his 
honourable profession, so far from his native town. 
In the commencement of 1820, the extraordinary 


occurrence commonly called the " Siege of Birr," and 
the " Birr Rebellion," took place there. About this 
time there were some disturbances in the neighbour- 
hood of Birr, which, although not of much conse- 
quence, yet, owing to unfounded rumours of large 
parties of Eibbonmen having been seen, caused con- 
siderable anxiety to the authorities, and most of the 
inhabitants of the town. At length the alarm reached 
such a height that a meeting of " the magistrates and 
principal inhabitants of Parsonstown and its vicinity," 
was held on the 30th of December 1819, the Earl of 
Eosse in the chair, at which it was resolved that an 
association, consisting of " both horsemen and foot," 
be established, and that it be called " the Parsonstown 
Loyal Association.'' In some days after this, a docu- 
ment entitled " a Declaration made and subscribed on 
the 13th of January 1820, by the peaceable inhabitants 
of the Parish of Birr," was signed by a number of the 
people who thereby bound themselves to assist the 
authorities if necessary, and also to give up their 
arms for safe keeping if required. At this time there 
resided in Birr a printer and stationer named Thomas 
Legge, and while the public mind was in this very 
excited state, Mr. Legge's wife commenced to bring 
to Birr castle to the Earl of Eosse, a series of docu- 
ments purporting to be threatening letters, which she 
stated had been brought or sent to her or her husband 
by a penitent amongst the Eibbonmen, by whom, as 
mentioned in these documents, his Lordship and many 
more of the people of the town were to be slaughtered. 


Thus on the 28th of February 1820, she brought to 
Lord Eosse two documents purporting to be from this 
Ribbonman, and which were as follows : " Mr. Legge, 
you are requested by a friend to deliver the inclosed 
letter to Lord Rosse's own hands yourself immediately, 
for if you don't, your life and the life of every Pro- 
testant in Birr will answer for it ; so be quick, for there 
is no time to be lost." The "inclosed letter" ran 
thus : " My Lord, As a sworn Ribbon Man I am 
bound to keep my oath, but conscience tells me as a 
Christian I ought to save the lives of my fellow 
brethern as far as I can without breaking that oath, 
so I have taken the earliest opportunity of informing 
your Lordship of the dangerous state you and your 
Town's Men stand in ; I am informed your Castle and 
Town will positively be attacked on Wednesday 
night towards day if there be not something done to 
prevent it in time. Your life and Lord Oxmantown 
and the life of every man who has any power is par- 
ticularly aimed at." Having delivered these docu- 
ments to Lord Rosse on the 28th of February, Mrs. 
Legge again went to the castle on the following day 
with another letter directed to him, and which was as 
follows : " My Lord, Has Mrs. Legge told you any- 
thing concerning your servants, ask her if she has not 
and I am sure she will tell you for every information 
tljat is in my power to give you I certainly will but 
through no other person but her, my reason for it 
you shall know another time. Tell John Drought he 
has the greatest Rebel in town for a servant except 


what you have got yourself There was no less than 
Five hundred Armed Men within a mile of your town 
last night and were it not that I gave a false alarm 
there would have been some mischief done It was 
one out of your own house that sent word of the town 
being prepared I thought to have seen Mrs. Legge 
to-day but I am so watched I can't stir You shall 
soon hear from me again That is our crest." The 
"crest" alluded to was a kind of cross, with four 
letters within the arms, and which " crest" was at the 
commencement and end of the foregoing document. 

With these and other somewhat similar produc- 
tions, the fabricator went to Birr castle several times, 
and there generally kept her face covered to conceal 
herself from the servants, as she said, and so well did 
this self-commissioned envoy perform her part, that 
she appeared to faint from fright whilst relating the 
particulars of the intended massacre. Whether these 
fits were the effects of momentary excitement, or were 
only feigned, they certainly had great weight in giv- 
ing the frightful story the semblance of truth. At all 
events, the Countess of Rosse, while these delusions 
continued, was in a dreadful state of suspense, expect- 
ing every moment to see her husband and children 
fall beneath the blows of some ruthless assassin. To 
provide against the threatened attack, most of the 
windows of the castle were then built up with stone 
and mortar by masons selected for the purpose, and 
from whom Roman Catholics were carefully excluded, 
as being more likely to be in league with the expected 


Ribbonmen. So general was the alarm throughout 
the town, that an armed association was kept up the 
entire time, in which, although Protestants and Roman 
Catholics were united, it was with mutual feelings of 
suspicion and distrust. Two pieces of cannon, which 
had remained at Birr Castle since the memorable time 
of the Volunteers, were manned by such of the in- 
habitants as understood anything about the artillery 
service, and in compliance with the urgent request of 
the Earl of Rosse and the magistrates of the neighbour- 
hood, Government ordered the 44th Regt. of Foot, 
then quartered at Templemore, to proceed by a forced 
march to the instant relief of Birr. " When arrived 
in Roscrea," said an officer of that gallant corps, " we 
expected to get some rest and refreshment, but to our 
great disappointment, we were ordered to proceed with 
unabated rapidity to Birr, which we reached in about 
four hours, after a march of nineteen miles. We there 
saw consternation depicted on every face. Most of the 
people had some kind of arms or other, and in the 
square were two peices of artillery ready primed, and 
with lighted matches." 

Such was the terror and confusion which then 
reigned in Birr, and to complete the business, one of 
the false letters recommended to get a few shots fired 
in the castle demesne, but fortunately this suggestion 
was not complied with, for these shots were intended 
as the signal for general destruction. The people of 
the town were to think them the commencement of an 
attack from the imaginary enemy, and thereupon 


Protestants and Eoman Catholics, who had already 
been induced to feel such mutual distrust of each 
other, were to be engaged in conflict. "We should not 
despair, however, even when things are at the worst, 
and in the present instance, " a lucky chance which 
oft decides the fate of mighty monarchs," led to the 
detection of this infamous contrivance. Mrs. Legge 
having been pressed to discover the author of the 
letters, fortunately pitched upon an industrious man 
of as good character as any person of the same means 
in the country. This, added to some other fortunate 
circumstances, having created suspicion, led to more 
minute inquiry. Then the talents of the performer 
were again called forth, and more letters were written 
in an altered, angry tone, denouncing all who should 
attempt an investigation. However, some account- 
books were discovered, in which appeared the same 
remarkable handwriting as in the letters, and upon 
this a public meeting was held, and a committee, com- 
posed principally of magistrates, was appointed to in- 
quire, into the transaction. 

The principal members of this committee held 
several meetings in the bed-chamber where the writer 
of this account of the occurrence was then confined 
from the effects of an accident which he met with 
when travelling. In this chamber the Earl of Rosse 
deposed upon oath to a long information detailing all 
the facts, as far as he was concerned, and several 
others, including two or three magistrates, also made 
sworn depositions on the subject. These depositions, 


or copies of them, are in the writer's possession, but 
are too long to be set out in full in this work. From 
them, however, sufficient evidence appeared upon 
oath to show that the entire plot was the contrivance 
of the bearer of the letters, and that an inferior trades- 
man in Birr was intrusted with some petty part in 
the management. Sir Jonas Green, afterwards Ke- 
corder of Dublin, who was consulted, gave his opinion, 
however, that the author of this nefarious plot could 
not be prosecuted with a certainty of conviction, in 
consequence of a point of law which bore upon the 
peculiar circumstances of the case ; and this opinion 
was the cause of the prosecution having been reluc- 
tantly abandoned. The ultimate object of this plot 
still remains, and probably will for ever remain, a 
secret ; and lucky as was its early exposure, still 
some accidents were occasioned by the hasty, armed 
preparations for defence, and the subsequent occur- 
rences. Thus ended this most audacious contrivance, 
commonly called "the Birr Kebellion," and "the 
Siege of Birr," by which, in the nineteenth century, 
an artful, designing woman duped and terrified for a 
time, not only a learned, astute nobleman and poli- 
tician, but likewise most of the inhabitants of the 
large town of Birr. 

In 1820, Wesley Chapel, in Cumberland Street, 
Birr, was erected, and this date appears on a tablet in 
front. This very neat place of worship has been much 
improved in late years, and is attended by a 
considerable congregation. 



The first of the extraordinary scenes which at dif- 
ferent times occurred in Birr Quarter Sessions Court, 
between the Assistant Barristers then presiding there, 
and a portion of the magistrates of the district, took 
place on the 27th of July 1822, when Thomas Clere 
Parsons, brother to the Earl of Eosse, and who had 
been appointed in 1803, was still Assistant Barrister 
for the King's County. The origin of this very 
remarkable and unusual proceeding, which was not 
concluded until October Sessions, 1822, was as 
follows : On the 5th of July 1822, one Minton, an 
inhabitant of Birr, lodged a complaint before a 
magistrate who lived five or six miles from the town, 
against a widow named Kerley, another inhabitant of 
the town, for recovery of five shillings or so, claimed 
to be due for labour. Upon the hearing of the com- 
plaint, the defendant was adjudged to pay the money, 
and a warrant was granted to levy the sum " and 
charges," without specifying the amount, and the 
poor woman's cow having been seized under this 
warrant, she was advised to lodge an appeal, and 
which she accordingly did. 

When this appeal came on at Quarter Sessions on 
the 27th of July, the Order appealed against had not 
been returned by the convicting Justice, and the case 
having been then adjourned to the last day of the 
Sessions, it was then further adjourned to the follow- 
ing October Sessions, in consequence of the absence of 
the Order. Upon this adjournment of the case, eight 
of the Justices attending the Court of Quarter Sessions 


retired to the magistrates' chamber, leaving the 
Assistant Barrister and the Justice who had taken the 
appeal, the only occupants of the bench. It appeared 
that these eight Justices were of opinion that no 
Justice should take an appeal to an Order, without a 
previous communication with the Justice by whom 
the Order had been made. As to this, the Justice 
who had taken the appeal in the present case differed 
with them, and the Assistant Barrister agreed in 
opinion with him. On retiring to the chamber, the 
eight Justices sent to request the Assistant Barrister 
to join them there, but he declined to do so, as he and 
the other Justice were then engaged in Court on the 
trial of a criminal case. Upon this, the eight Justices 
in chamber passed two resolutions condemning the 
conduct of their brother Justice in having taken the 
appeal, and they also resolved, " That we think it ex- 
pedient to request the attendance of every magistrate 
on the first day of the Crown business at the next 
Sessions of Birr, for the purpose of appointing a 
chairman, and taking this subject into consideration, 
as well as other matters relating to magisterial duties." 
These eight Justices then also resolved, "That we 
direct the Clerk of the Peace to send a copy of these 
resolutions to every magistrate in the B)^r District." 

Mr. Parsons, the chairman against whom these 
resolutions were principally directed, published, before 
the next Sessions, a long reply in the shape of an 
address to the magistrates of the King's County. To 
this address there appeared as a rejoinder, a pamphlet 


from " a freeholder of the King's County," addressed 
to Mr. Parsons, and intended to prove " his legal in- 
capacity to fill the situation of chairman of the King's 
County Quarter Sessions." The day for deciding the 
question at length arrived. The October Sessions of 
1822 set in, and upon Thursday, the 10th of that 
month the first day for disposing of criminal busi- 
ness there assembled in Birr the most numerous 
meeting of magistrates that ever was seen in the 
King's County. It may be interesting, after the lapse 
of nearly fifty years, to peruse the names of about 
sixty magistrates who then assembled, and which will 
be found (No. 12) in the Appendix. The humble 
parties to the appeal having in the meantime settled 
their little difference between themselves, it became 
unnecessary to enter into the matter on their account. 
Never was better exemplified the truth of the adage, 
" Scepe scintilla parva magnum incendium excitavit" 
The business commenced by Colonel L' Estrange, one 
of the magistrates, adverting to the resolutions of the 
former Sessions, and to the chairman's published 
reply, and he called upon the eight Eesolutionists to 
withdraw their resolutions. Upon this, one of these 
gentlemen agreed to have the resolutions withdrawn, 
in order, as he said, to avoid a division amongst the 
magistrates. It was then moved by Colonel 
L'Estrange, and seconded by Thomas Ryder Pepper, 
Esq., that the business should proceed as usual with 
the usual chairman ; but after some discussion, it was 
proposed by Colonel Atkinson, and seconded by Mr. 


Palmer, as an amendment, that the Earl of Rosse 
should be appointed chairman. Finally, however, the 
original resolution to proceed with the usual chairman, 
was carried with the most enthusiastic applause per- 
haps ever heard in a Court of Justice, the peals of 
which, echoing round the Jury-rooms and different 
parts of the court, acquired new strength as they re- 
sounded through the town, the streets of which were 
crowded with persons of all ranks, anxious to show 
their joy at the result 

Mr. Parsons, the respected chairman of the King's 
County Quarter Sessions Court, died in August 1825, 
and on the 3rd of May 1827, the solemn and imposing 
ceremony of laying the first stone of a cenotaph to his 
memory took place in Birr. In some time after his 
death, a public meeting was held in Birr to offer a 
tribute to his memory, and it was there resolved, 
"That a handsome Memorial be erected by public 
subscription, to perpetuate at once the said Thomas 
Clere Parsons' memory, and our regard for departed 
excellence." This meeting appointed a committee to 
carry out the object in view, and a subscription list 
was opened, the Rev. Mr. Adamson being treasurer. 
The subscribers after some time comprised not only 
all the gentry and respectable traders of the town and 
neighbourhood, but likewise many persons resident 
elsewhere, including the Earl of Charleville and Daniel 
O'Connell, M.P., afterwards "the Liberator.'' The 
amount of subscriptions having reached over 200, 
the committee, on their part, unanimously adopted the 


design of an obelisk, as furnished by Bernard Mullins, 
Esq., which was intended to be about seventy feet 
high, and would resemble the Wellington Testimonial 
in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, but be smaller, and 
more beautiful. An appropriate site for this obelisk 
was selected at Scurragh, near the town, where, on a 
rising ground over the river, and visible from all sides, 
it was intended to be a lasting testimonial to departed 

At length, everything being ready for the laying of 
the first stone, a numerous meeting of the subscribers, 
of which the late Colonel Bernard, M.P., was chair- 
man, was held in Birr on the 3rd of May 1827, when 
the report of the committee was unanimously approved 
of. The meeting being over, the gentlemen who 
attended it proceeded to the Court-house, where the 
Quarter Sessions was adjourned by "W. P. Cruise, 
Esq., then chairman, to enable himself, the Grand 
Jury, and officers of the court, to join in the ceremony 
of the day. From thence the procession moved for- 
ward through Cumberland Street, the Square, and 
over Oxmantown Bridge, to Scurragh, where the 
foundation had been previously excavated. The 
following was the order of the procession : A party 
of police with arms reversed, two deep ; Children of 
the Boys' Free School, which had been patronized 
by Mr. Parsons, four deep ; the Attorneys practising 
at Sessions, two deep ; the Sheriff of the King's 
County, bearing his wand of office ; the Deputy Clerk 
of the Peace ; W. P. Cruise, Esq., then chairman of the 


County ; Colonel Bernard, M.P., with apron and silver 
trowel ; Mr. Thomas Lalor Cooke, the Secretary, and 
the writer of this, bearing the design of the cenotaph, 
with a brass plate to be set in the first stone, this 
plate having an inscription to show why the monument 
was erected ; Major Holmes, who had succeeded the 
Rev. Mr. Adamson as Treasurer, bearing the coins in- 
tended to be deposited in the first stone ; John Lloyd, 
Esq., chairman of the committee, accompanied by the 
other members of it, Lieutenant-Colonel Desbrisay, 
L.R.A., and John Wetherelt, and Bartholomew War- 
burton, Esqrs., Justices of the Peace. Then followed 
numerous private gentlemen, including the Grand 
Jury at Quarter Sessions ; the procession being closed 
by a party of dismounted police. 

When the procession had arrived at the intended 
site, Colonel Bernard laid the first stone, with the 
usual solemnities; after which Major Holmes, as 
Treasurer, deposited the current coins in it, and they 
were covered with the brass inscription plate by the 
Secretary. Immediately after the stone was laid, the 
Chairman of the Committee, in an impressive manner, 
proclaimed aloud as follows : " The cenotaph of 
which Colonel Bernard, M.P., has this day laid the 
first stone, is hereby solemnly dedicated to the memory 
of our lamented neighbour, Thomas C. Parsons, Esq., 
deceased, late Assistant Barrister for the King's 
County." The vast assemblage present, consisting of 
about seven thousand persons, then quietly dispersed, 
testifying by their solemn silence the respect in which 


they held their late chairman. All the shops in the 
town were closed during the procession, in token of 
the unfeigned sorrow, and great respect of the owners, 
for one who had been most useful in the town and 

The first stone having been thus laid, the work 
progressed but slowly, in consequence of much delay 
on the part of the contractor ; and when at length, 
after a considerable time, the funds collected had been 
expended, the testimonial was not completed. . The 
greater portion of it was erected, however, and was 
beautifully and elaborately executed in cut and carved 
stone, so as to give an idea of what this testimonial 
would have been if finished. Unfortunately, however, 
the work was left thus unfinished until late years, 
when, instead of being completed by the people of 
Birr, or, if necessary, by the family of the deceased to 
whose memory it had been dedicated, even the por- 
tion of the testimonial already erected, with its 
materials, which had cost the subscribers nearly 200, 
disappeared altogether ! In former times the Goths 
and Vandals, as we are told, did not hesitate to 
destroy and carry away even the memorials of the 
dead, and they were justly execrated by all civilized 
nations for doing so; but in late days there are few 
instances such as the disappearance of the "Parsons 
Testimonial " in Birr. It is said that the materials 
of this unfinished testimonial dedicated to the honour 
of the dead, and paid for by friends who have now 
themselves mostly passed away have been used in 


the erection of a certain edifice in or near Birr. If 
this be so, the building erected with these materials, 
instead of being a credit to any person, should be con- 
sidered a lasting memorial of the degeneracy of the 
times in which it was raised ; at least until restitution 
be made to the dead, and the " Parsons Testimonial " 
of 1827 be erected. 

Previous to 1830, prosecutions at Quarter Sessions 
in Ireland, no matter how serious the offence, were 
carried on by the complainants themselves, or their 
Solicitors, without the intervention of the Crown. 
This practice, however, was found to be very objec- 
tionable, and about the time mentioned, the Govern- 
ment determined to try the experiment of having 
criminal cases at Quarter Sessions in Ireland prosecuted 
by an officer of the Crown. The King's County was 
then selected for the purpose of this experiment, and 
a resident of Birr, Mr. Thomas Lalor Cooke, Solicitor, 
the humble individual who writes this, had the honour 
of being appointed by the Attorney- General of tho 
day, to act as the first public prosecutor at Quarter 
Sessions in Ireland. After some years' experience in 
the King's County, the experiment was found so suc- 
cessful, that in 1835 it was determined to make the 
office of Sessional Crown Prosecutor general, by ap- 
pointing public prosecutors at Quarter Sessions in 
every county in Ireland. Thus, from the successful 
result of the experiment tried in the person of a resi- 
dent of Birr, in prosecuting on behalf of the Crown at 
the Quarter Sessions of Birr, and other Quarter 


Sessions divisions of the King's County, originated 
the present most useful office of Sessional Crown Pro- 
secutor in Ireland. In the Appendix (No. 13) will 
be found a letter from that eminent Judge, the late 
Sir John Howley who was chairman of the King's 
County during the time this experiment was being 
made in which, written in 1835, he testifies on the 
authority of the Attorney- General of the day, that it 
was owing to the success which had attended the ex- 
perimental appointment in the King's County, the 
office of Sessional Crown Prosecutor was then about 
to be made general in Ireland. 

In the year 1836 there took place at the January 
Quarter Sessions another of those extraordinary scenes 
for which Birr Quarter Sessions Court appears to have 
been noted. John Gibson, Esq., was then chairman 
for the county, and the business of the Sessions com- 
menced as usual with the registration of Parliamentary 
Voters. It seems, however, that the chairman's de- 
cisions in regard to the franchise were not, in the 
opinion of those representing the Conservative in- 
terest, what they should have been ; and, accordingly, 
a circular was issued to the Conservative magistrates 
of the County, requiring their attendance on the first 
day of the Crown business of the Sessions, which took 
place in two or three days afterwards. In compliance 
with this circular, an unusual number of magistrates 
of Conservative political opinions, assembled at Birr 
on the morning of the commencement of the Crown 
business. Many of these gentlemen were not resident 


in the King's County at all, and others who did reside 
in the County, were not in the habit of attending 
Quarter Sessions at Birr. The magistrates who thus 
assembled, on coming to the town on this morning, 
instead of going to the Court as they arrived, and as 
magistrates attending Quarter Sessions usually do, 
first met at a hotel, and then proceeded in a body 
through the street from the hotel to the Court-house. 
A few magistrates at the Court, who were not of the 
party, attempted to oppose the proceedings, but in 
vain ; for the Conservative Justices crowded in upon 
the bench, where Mr. Gibson, the chairman, was then 
deciding civil suits, and without giving any reason for 
doing so, passed a resolution that Colonel Lloyd, one 
of themselves, should take the chair. Upon this Mr. 
Gibson, quietly and with dignity retired, and having 
taken off his wig and gown, returned to the bench and 
took a place upon it, but not in the chair. The busi- 
ness then proceeded in the usual way, except that 
Colonel Lloyd acted as chairman, while Mr. Gibson, 
at his request, charged the jury in the several cases. 
This proceeding of a portion of the King's County 
magistrates, in thus assembling, pursuant to a 
circular to expel the chairman from the chair at 
Quarter Sessions, caused Lord Morpeth, then Chief 
Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, to apply 
to Colonel Lloyd and some of the other magistrates 
for an explanation, but nothing further of any 
consequence appears to have been then done in 
regard to the matter, although it was much dis- 


cussed by the press and otherwise, at the 

At the following Sessions of Birr, the Crown busi- 
ness of which commenced on the 8th of April, Mr. 
Gibson, as soon as the magistrates appeared upon the 
bench, adverted to incorrect reports regarding him 
and his conduct in respect to the registration of 
voters, which had even appeared in several news- 
papers since the former Sessions. After these remarks 
by Mr. Gibson, Lieut.-Col. Llyod was moved from the 
Quarter Sessions chair, on the motion of Col. the 
Hon. John C. Westenra, M.P., seconded by Mcholas 
Fitzsimon, M.P., and on the motion of Mr. Bennett, 
seconded by Mr. French, Mr. Gibson was again 
placed in the chair. Thus ended these very unpleasant 
and unusual differences between a portion of the 
magistracy and the chairman of the King's County. 

On the 5th of May 1853, the first telegram of a 
public nature was sent from Birr to Dublin. It 
was sent on this the fair-day of Birr, at eleven 
minutes past two o'clock P.M., and was published 
the same afternoon in the Dublin Saunders's News 
Letter. This first telegram from Birr was as follows : 
" Parsonstown Fair, May 5th. This was the 
largest and one of the best fairs ever held here. There 
was an immense supply of both sheep and cattle, and 
sufficient buyers for all at remunerative prices. 
Prime sheep sold higher than last year, and good 
cattle at about the same rates. Pigs were scarce and 


In December 1848 a remarkable event the pre- 
sentation of a Crimean Gun to the inhabitants of the 
town took place at Birr. Although this gun is not 
to be seen in the town, visitors to the Earl of Rosse's 
demesne, near the town, will probably have seen a 
gun in front of the castle, in the space enclosed within 
the fortifications erected there some years since, and 
which gun to strangers might naturally appear to be 
the property of the proprietor of the place. This is 
not so, however, as this gun so placed is the public 
property of the town of Birr, being one of the guns, 
taken from the Russians at Sebastopol, and which, in 
December 1848, was with much ceremony presented 
"to the inhabitants of the town of Birr," by the 
Secretary of State for War. This gun was then de- 
livered into the custody of the Town Commissioners of 
Birr for the people of the town, but it being the wish 
of the then Earl of Rosse to have the gun at his 
castle, a majority of the Commissioners decided to 
have it placed there in its present position, and not in 
a public place in the town. The writer of this ac- 
count of the transaction had been previously one of 
the Town Commissioners for Birr, and at this time 
was not long after completing his year of office as 
chairman of that body. Believing, however, that it 
was contrary to his duty to be a party to disposing in 
this way of the trophy so presented to the town, he 
resigned his seat as such Commissioner, and had a 
protest against their conduct in the matter, served 
upon the other Commissioners. This occurrence is 


mentioned here principally because it seems right to 
put on record, in such a way as may not be forgotten 
hereafter, the fact that although they have it not in 
their possession as was intended, still this Crimean 
Gun is the property of the inhabitants of Birr. It is 
also satisfactory to know that their gun is in safe 
keeping, where according to the opinion of an 
eminent authority the inhabitants of Birr should 
have access, not as a favour, but as matter of right, 
while their gun remains there. 

In concluding this account of ancient Birr with 
some comparatively recent events there which seemed 
likely to be interesting, or worthy of notice, the 
writer wishes to add a few words on behalf of the 
ancient name of this place. It has been seen that 
the name " Birr "is of very great antiquity, and 
it has been also seen how, and when, the name " Par- 
sonstown" more fashionable in modern times 
has originated. There can be no objection that the 
rights of the family to whom the place belongs 
should be recognised by the occasional use of the 
modern name " Parsonstown," although none of 
the titles of that family have been taken from 
Birr or its neighbourhood. The name of the 
parish, derived from the name of the town, must, 
however, always remain " Birr," and even the 
residence of the Parsons family there, still retains 
the name " Birr Castle." It is to be hoped, 
therefore, that the inhabitants of this ancient 
town will not, by disuse, cause the original and 


proper name of the town of Birr also, to be altogether 
obliterated and forgotten. 

The names of the principal inhabitants and traders 
of Birr in the year 1823, will be found (No. 14) in 
the Appendix. 



THE very old and interesting town of Eoscrea is 
situate in the parish, of Roscrea, barony of Ikerrin, and 
County Tipperary. From nine to ten miles south of Birr, 
Roscrea is connected with that town by the railway 
passing from Birr to the Great Southern and Western 
line at Ballybrophy. There is also a line of rail from 
Roscrea to Nenagh. 

The early name of Roscrea was Roskree, and it 
is thus written in the patent granting it to the 
Ormond family, in the twenty-ninth year of the reign 
of Henry VI 1 1. The name Roskree seems to be 
derived from riasc (reesk), a marsh, and ere, which 
means earth, the keel of a ship, and the Creed, and 
in the Life of St. Cronan it is called Stagnum Ore, 
which seems the same thing. Usher calls it Insula 
Roscree, and Burke designates it Fluminus Insulam 
Roscreensem. This place was also called in ancient 
times Ruif- Ore and Rog- Ore. Roscrea formerly gave 
title to a bishopric, comprising the entire of Ely 
0' Carroll, together with the barony of Ikerrin, in the 


County Tipperary, but about the end of the twelfth, 
or beginning of the thirteenth century, this bishopric, 
and that of Iniscathra (Scattery Island), were united 
to the see of Killaloe. Eoscrea seems likewise to have 
been one of the early manors in Ireland, for in 1318, 
Matthew MacCragh, Bishop of Killaloe, with consent 
of the dean, archdeacon, and chapter, surrendered it 
to the Crown as such, receiving in lieu a grant of 
three carucates and eighty-four acres of land at New- 
castle, near Dublin. The record of this surrender 
is extant amongst the Patent Eolls of Edward II., 
and the name is there spelled Roskre. 

Eoscrea, according to Archdall's Monasticon and the 
authorities there mentioned, owes its origin in a great 
measure to St. Cronan ; for, " St. Cronan, the son of 
Odran, built a cell on a small island in Loughkee, but 
finding that situation too retired, he erected a sump- 
tuous monastery near the King's highway, where a 
celebrated city afterwards sprang up, now only a 
small town, and called Eoscrea. After the performance 
of many miracles, the holy and aged founder of this 
house, ended an exemplary life on the 10th of May, 
in the beginning of the seventh century, and his feast 
(as patron of Eoscrea) is held on the 28th of April." 
St. Cronan and his father were natives of Ely 
0' Carroll, and his mother was named Coemri, and 
was from Corcubaskin, in the County Clare. 

Few places for the size can boast of more interest- 
ing antiquarian remains, and in greater variety, than 
Eoscrea, and the appearance of the town from the hill 


130 ROSCREA. ' 

over which, between Dromakeenan and Roscrea, the 
road from Birr passes, is indeed well calculated to 
inspire solemn thoughts of long past times. The 
aged round tower, and the Saxon gable end of St. 
Cronan's Abbey to the left, with the venerable steeple 
of the Franciscan Monastery to the right, present on 
both extremities of the view, objects most interesting ; 
while the middle space is diversified by the ruins of 
the round castle of King John's time, and those of the 
larger, but less ancient, one of the days of Henry 
VIII. In the distance, reviving the spirit of Irish 
chivalry, appears Carrickhill, or the " Hill of the 
Rock," from which the Earl of Carrick takes his title. 
In very early times there were fairs held in Roscrea, 
attended by merchants and others from distant parts 
of Ireland, and even by many foreigners, and some of 
these fairs continued for fourteen days. It is a well 
authenticated fact, that the Irish assembled at one of 
these fairs, on the festival of SS. Peter and Paul, in 
the year 942, beat the Danes, who had gathered their 
forces from Waterford, Limerick, and Gal way, with 
intent to surprise and plunder the natives. The 
Limerick Danes were commanded by Tomar, and it is 
said the Danes from Galway passed in boats over the 
Shannbn where Portumna bridge now stands, and that 
they all then united their forces in Ormond, under the 
command of Olfin. The people of the country, how- 
ever, gave the alarm by lighting fires on the hills, and 
the men of Roscrea being prepared, they, with the 
people who resorted to the fair from the different parts 


of the country, although strangers to each other, did 
not wait to be attacked in the town, but sallied out, 
and after a sanguinary conflict near the same Carrick- 
hill, defeated the invaders, killing Olfin, their chief, 
with 4,000 of his men. This circumstance it is which 
made the Hill of Carrick so remarkable as to give 
a title to the noble house of Butler. 

The Danes on this occasion took flight towards 
Moneygall on their way to Limerick, and the track by 
which they went is marked by the many skeletons 
found in it from time to time. Thus numerous human 
bones were found years ago in pits between Clonegana 
and the highroad, and more of them were found in the 
bog between Moneygall and Cullenwaine. It is 
curious that these bones have been generally found 
where there was either dry sandy soil or bog, the ab- 
sorbing nature of the sand preserving them in the one 
case, and the antiseptic quality of the bog, in the 
other ; but wherever the bodies were interred in rich 
earth, they were sooner decomposed. Even the names 
of many of the townlands in this line of flight seem 
derived from the transaction. Thus the route followed 
was by the stream called Owris, as if from the Irish 
oiriSj a stop, delay, or hindrance, probably because it 
interrupted the flight of the Danes ; thence by Clone- 
gana, from, cluan, a retired place, and geanam, a sword ; 
by Clashagad, from glas, a lamentation, and giodad, a 
wounding; by FinglaSj/ow, troops, and glas, a lamen- 
tation ; and by Loughawn, locc, a pool, and un, evil, to 
Moneygall, where the battle is said to have ended. 


Moneygall seems to be derived from moin, a bog, and 
gall, a foreigner, or stranger, and several human bones 
were found some years ago in a moor near it. 

To return to Boscrea, which has been left behind in 
following the track of the routed Danes. In former 
times Eoscrea was famed, not only for the valour of 
its inhabitants, and the magnificence of its buildings, 
but likewise as a seat of practical religion. We find 
accordingly, that St. Canice, who was born in 516, and 
died in 599, wrote here a copy of the Four Gospels, 
called Glass Kennic, or, " Chain of Canice," and which, 
Archbishop Usher tells us, was preserved in this town 
even until his own time. There was also a copy of 
the Gospels written by Dimma, a scribe, the son of 
Engus, son of Carthin, which possibly was the manu- 
script afterwards in the possession of the late Sir Wm. 
Betham, and which latter was certainly preserved at 
Boscrea in a most curiously wrought and ornamented 
box, and was several years ago the subject of much 
interesting discussion, in the Transactions of the Boyal 
Irish Academy, and elsewhere. 

Eoscrea seems to have suffered much in former 
times from fire, as well as from plunderers, for we 
find it was " destroyed," or greatly injured by fires in 
the years 1133, 1135, and 1147. Again, notwith- 
standing the lesson taught the Danes two centuries 
before, the town was plundered in the year 1153 by 
the Eoganaght of Cashel, a tract of about twelve miles 
round that city ; while it appears that in the following 
year, the Abbey and town once more suffered from " a 


general conflagration." Thus it seems that in this 
short space of some twenty years, this town was four 
times burned, and, at least, once plundered. 

In the year 1213 the reign of King John the 
English having possessed themselves of Eoscrea, after 
some contests with Murtagh, King of North Munster, 
built, as a barrier against the natives, the circular- 
shaped castle on the street now called the Mall, lead- 
ing by the river ; and early in the 14th century, in 
the reign of Edward, the castle and manor of Eoscrea, 
with all fees and " advowsons of churches appertain- 
ing thereunto," were granted to Edmund Butler, Earl 
of Carrick. This round tower has been repaired in 
late years. The large square castle in the centre of 
the town was built by the Ormond family in the reign 
of Henry VIII., and has been used in late years as a 
store-house for any military lodged in the barracks at 
the rere. This barracks was formerly the residence 
of Mr. Darner, ancestor to the Earl of Dorcester. The 
interior of the castle is well worthy of a visit. 

So much having been stated as to ancient Eoscrea in 
general, the remains of its venerable Abbey and 
Monastery now claim more particular attention, nor 
should the fine round tower one of those puzzles for 
antiquarians be forgotten. As already stated, St. 
Cronan founded hepe in the seventh century, the 
Abbey, the front gable of which, for such it appears 
to have been, is still remaining. The following descrip- 
tion of the ruins of this Abbey and the round tower, 
as they appeared in 1786, is given in Archdall's 


Monasticon: "The present church is dedicated to St. 
Cronan ; the front of it is very old, and consists of a 
door and two flat niches on either side, of Saxon 
architecture, with a mezzo-relievo of the patron Saint, 
much defaced by time ; at a little distance is a cross 
in a circle, with a crucifix on one side, adjoining to 
which is a stone carved in various figures, and at 
each end a mezzo-relievo of a saint ; both are called, if 
we mistake not, the shrine of St. Cronan. To the 
north-west is a fine round tower, fifteen feet diameter, 
with two steps round it at the bottom ; about fifteen feet 
from the ground is a window with a regular arch, and 
at an equal height is another window with a pointed 
arch." The first-mentioned " window" seems to be 

what we now call the door, and it is unnecessarv to 


inform those acquainted with the place, that the fore- 
going description is almost quite applicable still, after 
the lapse of nearly another century ; such little effect 
has a hundred years' wear and tear had upon these 
weather-beaten remains. 

"We have been handed down, on good authority, the 
names of more than 25 abbots or superiors of Eoscrea 
Abbey after St. Cronan, commencing with the Abbot 
Fiangus who, according to the Four Masters, died in 
the year 800, and ending with Conaig O'Haengusa, 
"Superior of the Canons of Eoscrea," who, on the 
same authority, died in 1173. It would be uninterest- 
ing to the general reader to go through this long list 
of names, extending over a period of nearly 400 years, 
although several of those mentioned were eminent for 


learning and sanctity. Thus in 827, died Ciaran, 
" a philosopher " of Eoscrea; and in 838, Aidean, 
Abbot of Koscrea, and Prior of Clonmacnoise, died. 
King Cormac M'Culenain in 909, ordered by will that 
his royal robes, embroidered with gold, and enriched 
with precious stones, should be deposited in this 
Abbey. In 916, died the Abbot Scanlan M'Gorman, 
who was a learned scribe and philosopher, and also 
Abbot of Clonemore Maedhog ; and the Abbot Bran 
M'Colman died in 926, according to some writers, 
while others say he was killed by the Danes in 929. 
The sepulchral slab of this Abbot was to be seen in 
Monaincha Abbey, near Eoscrea, some years ago, but 
it has been since placed in the museum of the Eoyal 
Irish Academy. The Irish inscription on it signi- 
fied " Pray for Black Bran ;" notwithstanding which, 
it was erroneously pointed out as the tomb of St. 
Cronan. In 964, died Cormac O'Killein, Abbot of 
Eoscrea, and Bishop of Clonmacnoise; in 1119, died 
Fearghal, the " venerable elder of Eoscrea ; " and in 
1161, died Isaac O'Cuanan, "stiled Bishop of Eoscrea." 
The question as to whether the round tower of 
Eoscrea, and other similar structures in other parts of 
Ireland, were erected for Christian or Pagan uses, 
and what particularly, and about what period, 
is too intricate to enter into here. There have 
been, and are, able champions on both sides, and 
whoever is right, there is no doubt that the venerable 
tower at Eoscrea is an interesting specimen of its 
kind. This tower is about eighty feet high, and 


stands a few dozen yards north-west from St. 
Cronan's Abbey; and, as stated by Archdall near one 
hundred years ago, has around the base two tiers of 
stone-work resembling steps, with a circular arched 
doorway (called by Archdall a window), now about ten 
feet from the ground, and what appears at first sight 
to be a pointed window, about fifteen feet higher still. 
There are some curious and peculiar circumstances 
connected with the Roscrea Bound Tower, including 
this last-mentioned window, which should not be 
passed over in silence. The arch of this window, 
which from the outside appears to be pointed, is really 
a double arch, pointed on the outside, but semi-circular 
on the inside. This window faces the east, and on the 
right side of it, within the opening, and about half- 
way between the top and bottom of the window, there 
is the figure of a one- masted antique ship or boat, 
about a foot long, not cut into the stone, but carved 
out on it in bold relief ; and on the same stone, and 
near the ship, there is carved in the same way a figure 
resembling a battle-axe or hatchet. On the opposite 
or left side of the window, and at about the same 
height, there is a queer figure also cut in relief on the 
stone in the same way, and which last-mentioned 
figure, is something like a belted cross. It is remark- 
able that some years ago there was an ancient slab at 
Selsker Abbey, in the County Wexford, having on it 
the figure of an antique ship almost quite similar to 
this one on the Roscrea Round Tower. To enter into 
speculations as to how these figures came to be on 


this round tower, or of what they may be emblematic, 
would be uninteresting to many. It is curious, 
however, as regards these figures, to find the early 
name of Eoscrea partly formed by the word ere, of 
which one of the meanings is, the keel of a ship ; and 
it is also interesting, in connexion with one of the 
theories put forward regarding the round towers of 
Ireland, to find here the figure of a ship, which was 
the emblem of the passive power of propagation of 
nature the Cybele of the classics, and Una of the 
Pagan Irish. 

In 1842, excavations were made in the interior of 
the round tower at Eoscrea. The tower at that time 
was full inside up to the level of the door, which 
might have been caused in some measure in conse- 
quence of its having been theretofore inhabited by a 
family, who cared the flag and flagstaff then on the 
top, and the stairs leading to them. This flag appears 
to have been kept there by an Orange Society, until 
the custom was put an end to by Government. In 
the excavations referred to, there was first met loose 
stones and earth, to the depth of about three feet from 
the surface of the floor, and then a layer of rich mor- 
tar and small stones, about five to six inches thick, 
was come to. After this was found a course of clay 
and stones, about sixteen inches thick, and in it were 
several human jaw-bones and thigh-bones, these last 
being invariably close to the wall of the tower, and 
lying as parallel as possible to the large stones 
composing it. After several alternate courses in this 


way, mixed with human bones, there was found at the 
depth of about seven feet from the level of the door, 
and about the centre of the tower, a round hole about 
two and a half to three inches diameter, which was 
perfectly smooth and even, and went down about 
seven feet more through a bed of coarse stones and 
clay. The bottom of this hole was full of water which 
probably came in from the adjoining mill-pond, with 
which it was nearly on a level. Some of the lower 
bed of stones and clay was also removed, and several 
human bones of larger size than the others, were 
found imbedded in the clay. The stones used in the 
lower part of the walls of the Eoscrea tower are very 
large and coarse, some of them being six feet long. 
They are also quite undressed, and are curiously fitted 
into one another. The centre hole had every appear- 
ance of having been something in the way of a filter 
or contrivance for carrying away water, but this also 
is only matter for speculation. 

Towards the end of the year 1845, it became neces- 
sary to sink a foundation for an addition to the mill, 
which is close to this ancient tower. It was then 
found that the foundation of the tower went to the 
depth of ten feet, through a tough clay, and consisted 
of solid masonry, with three offsets decreasing in 
diameter as the work approached the surface. At this 
depth, and beneath part of the foundation, the work- 
men found the skeleton of a man, the skull being 
nearly half an inch thick, and being remarkable for 
having scarcely any development of forehead. 


On the river towards the north-west end of the 
town, are the remains of the Franciscan Friary, 
founded in 1490, by Mulroony O'Carroll, Lord of Ely 
0' Carroll, to whose memory there was formerly here 
a stone tablet with a Latin inscription. He was nick- 
named na feasoge, that is, with the beard, and he 
married Bibiana, daughter of O'Dempsey. Others 
state that Bibiana herself founded this monastery after 
she became a widow. By an inquisition, taken 27th 
December 1568, it was found that, " the precincts of 
this monastery contained two acres, in which was a 
house where the friars dwelt, with a dormitory, hall, 
the prior's chamber, a chapel, a cemetery, a garden, 
and two orchards, annual value, 6s. 8d., besides 
reprises, and in the lands of Eoscrea thirty acres 
of arable and pasture ; the church was parochial, and 
a third-part of the rectory of Eosscuro, and the 
alterages thereof, with the tithes of the above thirty 
acres, did belong to it ; and the vicar who served the 
church received the said tithes and alterages." The 
whole was subsequently granted to Thomas, Earl of 
Ormond, who assigned to William Crow. 

On entering from the street, under the fine old 
church tower of the monastery thus erected by 
O'Carroll or his widow, nearly 400 years since, a 
scene presents itself at the present day very different 
from what it must have been in 1568, the date 
of the inquisition referred to. It is true the grand old 
church tower still remains in good preservation, with 
other portions of this venerable building ; and there is 


also the "cemetery," with slabs and tombs of con- 
siderable antiquity. On proceeding a little further, 
however, instead of ancient remains, we come in view 
of " St. Cronan's new church," the name given to the 
beautiful Eoman Catholic church, erected here in late 
years by the people of Eoscrea. It would be almost 
impossibe to select a finer or more appropriate site for 
the elegant building which here stands upon hallowed 
ground, in the midst of picturesque scenery through 
which the little Brusna river flows hard by. This 
beautiful edifice was commenced several years ago, 
when the Very Eev. Thomas Blake, Y.G., was Parish 
Priest of Eoscrea, and has been finished by the present 
respected Parish Priest, the Very Eev. Philip Ken- 
nedy, Y.G. Mr. Butler was the original architect, 
and on his death was succeeded by Mr. M'Carthy. If 
the outside of this church be beautiful, it is yet 
surpassed by the interior, with its lofty ceiling, 
stained glass windows, and elegant altars and screen. 
The high altar and throne, the screen, the two side 
altars, and the sanctuary railing, are of Caen stone, and 
Carara and Irish marble red marble from Cork, and 
green from Galway. These were executed by Messrs. 
Early and Powell of Dublin who also erected the 
beautiful memorial altar in Birr Eoman Catholic 
church and are considered to be very fine works of 
art. They cost about 1,500. The stained glass 
windows in the eastern end, and the one in the 
western gable, are very beautiful, and there are also 
three very handsome windows in the side aisle, 


erected to the memories of the Very Eev. Thomas 
Blake, V.G., the Eev. John Doolan, C.C., and the 
Eev. Thomas Lynch. In fine, St. Cronan's new 
church is most creditable to the people of Eoscrea 
generally, and to the very rev. gentlemen by whom 
it was commenced and finished. 

The Eoscrea Convent is an elegant building, 
beautifully situated on a height behind St. Cronan's 
new church, and not far from it. This convent is 
admirably adapted to the purposes for which it was 
erected, and contains more than thirty nuns, with 
boarding and day schools for young ladies of the 
upper classes. There is likewise a poor school, with 
an average attendance of 400 children, whose educa- 
tion is an incalculable benefit to the town and neigh- 

Towards the close of the last century, when the 
different volunteer corps were being enrolled through- 
out Ireland, the spirited people of Eoscrea were not 
idle. We accordingly find a corps of volunteers called 
" the Eoscrea Blues," associated here on the 21st of 
July 1779, their uniform being blue faced blue, with 
gold lace. Colonel Yaughan, as a delegate from this 
corps, attended the meeting of delegates held at Birr, 
on the 20th of March 1782, as already mentioned. 
On the 8th of April following, "the Eoscrea Blues" 
assembled in full body at Eoscrea, Captain Edward 
Birch in the chair, when it was resolved unanimously 
that they "think it would be at this time highly 
criminal in them, as independent volunteers and 


freeholders, to remain silent, and they have therefore 
come to the following resolutions : 

" Whereas it has been asserted that the volunteers, as 
such, cannot debate or publish their opinions on political 
subjects, or on the conduct of Parliament, or on men in 
public employments ; resolved unanimously, that a 
freeholder by learning the use of arms does not 
abandon any of his civil rights. 

" Eesolved, That we highly approve of the spirited 
and constitutional resolutions of the Ulster delegates 
assembled at Dungannon, on the 15th day of February 
last ; and also, the resolutions entered into at Birr, on 
the 20th of March last, at which meeting our delegate, 
Colonel Yaughan, attended. 

" Eesolved, That, connected as we are with Great 
Britain by every tie of interest and affection, we 
are determined to share her liberty and share her 

"Eesolved, That at every ensuing election we 
are determined to support those only who have 
made the good of their country the primary object. 

" Eesolved, That the thanks of this corps be pre- 
sented to Henry Prittie, Esq., one of our representa- 
tives, for his steady and upright conduct in Parlia- 
ment, and while he continues to persevere (which we 
have not the least doubt of) in maintaining the rights 
of his country he shall meet with our warmest 

" Eesolved, That it appears to us, that from the 
unequal representation of the people, we have reason 


to apprehend that the endeavours of the virtuous part 
of our House of Commons to obtain a redress of 
grievances may prove abortive ; we, therefore, pledge 
ourselves, should any well-judged constitutional at- 
tempts be made to bring our Parliament to its 
pristine purity, our zealous support will not be 

Captain Birch having left the chair, it was further 
unanimously resolved, " That the thanks of this corps 
be presented to him for his propriety of conduct in the 
chair." John Francks, Esq., acted as secretary to this 

Although the comparatively recent date 1779 is on 
the front of the present Market House in Roscrea, 
there must have been not only a Market House, but a 
very creditable one in that town at a very early date, 
for we have already seen (p. 49) that in a lease made 
in the year 1671, of the market place in Birr, the 
lessee was bound to build as good a Market House " as 
is bilt in Roscrea." 

Previous to the Rebellion of 1798, there was pub- 
lished in Roscrea a Journal called the Roscrea Southern 
Star, or General Advertiser. It was printed and pub- 
lished in Limerick Street, by W. and J. H. Lords, and 
was extinguished in the year 1798 in a very summary 
way, in consequence of some republican feeling said to 
have been shown by the proprietors. Soon after the 
cruel murder of Mr. Doolan of Bovine, near Birr, as 
already mentioned, the Roscrea yeomanry, it is said, 
forcibly entered Mr. Lord's house, broke-up and 


destroyed his furniture, and scattered his types and 
press about the streets. Such was the fate of the 
Roscrea Southern Star, but whether the proprietor de- 
served this treatment or not, it would be difficult to 
decide now, after the lapse of nearly seventy years. 
At all events, this was an effectual way to suppress an 
obnoxious Journal. 

Roscrea Protestant church was erected in 1812. It 
is a fine substantial building, and stands near or upon 
the site of St. Cronan's Abbey. The Venerable Arch- 
deacon Eoe is now the respected Rector of Roscrea. 
The Wesleyan chapel, on the Mall by the river, 
was erected in 1801, but was rebuilt in late years in 
a very creditable manner, and is now a very fine 

The names of the principal inhabitants and traders 
of Roscrea in the year 1823, will be found (No. 15) in 
the Appendix. Some other interesting events, in con- 
nexion with Roscrea, will also be met with throughout 
the work. 

In concluding this account of ancient Roscrea, some 
information as to the neighbouring monastery of 
Monaincha will be interesting. Mr. Archdall thus 
describes this place as it appeared in 1786: "The 
monastery of Monaincha situate almost in the centre 
of the great bog of Monela, in the Barony of Ikerrin, 
and about three miles south-east of Roscrea, was 
originally an abbey of Culdean monks, under the in- 
vocation of St. Columba, whose festival was formerly 
celebrated there on the 15th of June; the situation 


chosen by these religions was very singular ; the 
island whereon the monastery is built consists of about 
two acres of dry ground ; all the surrounding parts 
being a soft morass, scarcely accessible by human 
feet, and yet, on this isle stands the remains of a 
beautiful edifice ; not large, but constructed in so fine 
a style, and with such materials, as excites our wonder 
how they could have been transported thither. The 
length of the church is forty-four feet, the width 
about eighteen ; the arches of the choir, and the 
western portal, are semi-circular, and adorned with a 
variety of curious mouldings ; the windows were con- 
trasted arches, such as appear over the west entrance 
to the church of St. Edmondsbury, Suffolk, but they 
are decaying, and some have fallen down." 

The original monastery of the Culdees, referred to 
by Archdall, was erected here in the seventh century, 
but Ware states that Monaincha afterwards became a 
priory of Regular Canons, and was dedicated to the 
Blessed Virgin and St. Hillary. Cambrensis, who 
came to Ireland in 1185, as secretary to King John, 
then Earl of Morton, refers to this monastery, and 
states that the island upon which it stands " borders 
upon North Minister and the confines of Leinster, and 
that there a few Culdees or Colidei did devoutly serve 
God." Even at this time there appears to have been 
a superstitious notion that no person could die in this 
island be his malady ever so bad, as the merits of the 
Patron Saint, and his religions, had secured this 
privilege to an island so favoured. Hence this place 



acquired the appellation Insula Viventium, or The 
Island of the Living, and was called by the Irish 
Inisnambeo, which means the same thing. It was 
also known as Inchenebo. The name Culdee, in 
Irish, Ceile De, signifies a servant of God, and the 
Culdees are also referred to by an Irish appellation 
meaning " Sons of Life." The Latin writers call them 
Colidei, Culdei, and sometimes Deicolce, or " Wor- 
shippers of God." This celebrity of the Culdees, 
and their residence at Monaincha, brought, for up- 
wards of ten centuries, and from the most distant 
parts of Ireland, numerous pilgrims to the altar of St. 

The religious inhabitants of Inchenebo appear, how- 
ever, in course of time to have removed from the 
island to the mainland, for Ware informs us that they 
afterwards fixed their residence at Corbally, near at 
hand. There are still some remains of their establish- 
ment at Corbally, where, in Archdall's time, there 
was " in good preservation, a small, neat chapel of 
a cruciform shape, with narrow slits for windows, 
and many other particulars indicating a respectable 

By an inquisition taken in the year 1568, it was 
found " that the monastery of Canons Regular of the 
Virgin Mary, in the Island of the Living, otherwise 
called Inchenebo, was seized of the following lands : 
The island, which contained three acres of moor, 
wherein were two chapels; and near the island a 
village called Corballi, in which the prior and convent 


dwelt, where also was a church, formerly the church 
of the priory and parish, and is still the parish church ; 
in this village were eight waste cottages, and the land 
which belonged to the priory consisted of one hundred 
and eighty acres of arable and pasture, annual value, 
30s. ; one hundred and forty of unprofitable, and 
sixteen acres of wood and underwood, annual value, 
2s. 8d." Amongst the other lands of which this 
monastery was then found to be seized were the 
" vill of Kerneyttys " (now Kinnetty), with thirty 
acres, annual value, 5s. ; the " vill of Kylecoleman " 
(now Kilcoleman), with twenty acres, annual value, 
4s. ; and the vill of Aghancon, with twenty-four 
acres. Also, one- third part of the rectory of " Kos- 
comroh," and the rectory of " Lytter." This 
Inquisition adds, that the whole of the lands were 
of the annual value of 40s., "the greater part 
of the townlands in the said parishes being then 
waste." The places above named are all in the 
neighbourhood of Birr or Koscrea. The Abbey 
of Monaincha was granted to Sir Lucas Dillon 
in the twenty-eighth year of the reign of Queen 

Mr. Archdall describes the ruins of this monastery 
as being, in 1786, when he wrote, very interest- 
ing as regarded the situation, the materials used, 
and the workmanship ; and even now, when these 
ruins have stood the ordeal of another century, 
they are well worthy oi a visit. The sepulchral 
slab of " Black Bran," Abbot of Roscrea, which 


was formerly here, has been already noticed. 
As Kinnetty, called " Kerneyttys," and Kilcole- 
man, termed " Kylecoleman," are referred to in 
the Inquisition as to Monaincha, this seems the 
proper place to notice these places. 



THE neat little town called Kinnetty, or Kinnitty, is 
about six miles south-west of Birr, in the Parish of 
the same name, and Barony of Ballybritt. Kinnitty 
was in the district of Ely 0' Carroll, but adjoined the 
ancient territory of Fearcall. The old name of the 
townland was Ballynacaislean, or Castletown. 

The name of this place was differently spelled in old 
documents. Thus it was spelled Ceann-etich, which 
would mean Etech's head, and according to a note in 
the Felire of Aenguis, at the 7th of April, St. Finan's 
festival day, it was so-called because the head of Etech, 
an ancient Irish heroine, was buried there. The 
Four Masters, however, have it " Cinneitigh," in the 
passage at the year 1213, where they record that the 
English " erected the castle of Cinneitigh " (see p. 21). 
In a different copy of these Annals it is spelled " Cin- 
neidigh," which seems more near the proper ortho- 
graphy. It is very probable, however, that this 
parish acquired its name from there having been in it 
a cell belonging to the celebrated St. Ita, whose name 


is still borne by the neigbouring parish called Ettagh, 
or Ittagh. The Irish for concealment is pronounced 
Keyn, while the Saint's name is Eidigli, or Eitigh, and 
thus we have Keyn Eitigh, or Keyn Eidigh, meaning 
the place of retirement, or concealment, of Ita. 
Keating spells it " Cinneity," while in the Grant by 
the Crown, 19th Charles II., hereafter mentioned, 
the name is spelled " Killenitty," which appears to 
mean the little cell of Ita. There seems, from the 
derivation of the name, to be little doubt as to this 
place having been once favoured by the frequent visits 
of St. Ita, whose solitary cell was here, while she had 
a more extensive and public establishment in the 
neighbouring parish of Itagh, or Ettagh, and other 

Ita was a very celebrated Saint, and was called Ida 
as well as Ita, and she was also known by the name 
Mida. We likewise find her designated Ite, Ide, and 
Mide. St. Ita was daughter of Kennfoelad, by his 
wife Necta. She was therefore descended from the 
princes of Decies, an extensive ancient district in the 
present County Waterford. It is inferred that her 
parents were Christians, from the fact of her having 
been baptized when a child. She was born a little 
before the year 484, and was placed while an infant 
under the care of St. Brendan of Clonfert. 

An abbey was founded at Kinnitty in the year 557, 
when St. Finan, surnamed Cam, of the race of Cor- 
dudubne, and disciple of St. Brendan of Clonfert, who 
died in 576, was abbot of " Cinneteach." St. Finan 


of Kinnitty died on the 7th of April, but the year is 
uncertain; he flourished, however, about the same 
time with St. Mochoemoc, who died in 655. 

The Danes destroyed Kinnitty Abbey in 839, and 
Cellach, son of Crunmal, who was abbot here, died in 
850 ; as did, in 871, the abbot Colga M'Cohagann, 
who was esteemed the best and most eloquent poet 
then in this kingdom, and who was also the principal 

Keating informs us that in 908, Colman"the Eeli- 
gious," abbot of " Cinneity," was killed in the suit of 
Cormac M'Cuilebaan, at the battle of Moy Ailbe, near 
Leighlin. The same writer adds, " this holy person was 
Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, and sat upon the Bench, 
and administered the laws with great honour to 
himself and advantage to his country." 

It has been already seen that the " vill of Ker- 
neyttys," with thirty acres of arable and pasture, and 
twenty-four of wood and underwood, annual value, 5s., 
with other lands in the neighbourhood, heretofore be- 
longed to the monastery of Monaincha, or Inchenebo, 
near Koscrea. 

By Grant from the Crown, 13th January, 19th 
Charles II. (1668), were granted the lands "of Kille- 
nitty," consisting of 416 acres 2 roods plantation 
measure, and Castletown 222 acres, with severad ad- 
joining lands ; comprising in all 1620 acres 1 rood 
plantation, or 2624 acres 2 roods 6 perches statute 
measure. On the Down Survey Map, the name of 
this place is spelled "Kinnitie." 

The little town of Kinnitty, and surrounding landb, 
are the property of Colonel Bernard, Lieutenant and 
Custos Rotulorum of the King's County, whose beauti- 
ful residence, Castle Bernard, is situate in a picturesque 
demense adjoining the town, and bordering on the 
Sliebh Bloom Mountains. This large and stately 
mansion, which is built of grey blue limestone in the 
Elizabethan castellated style, was erected at great ex- 
pense by the late Colonel Bernard, father of the pre- 
sent owner, and the latter has also expended a large 
sum in recent improvements. It has been seen (p. 93) 
that at the review of the Volunteer corps, near Birr, 
on 20th February 1784, the left wing was commanded 
by Colonel Thomas Bernard, jun., who was grand- 
father of the present Colonel Bernard ; and his own 
corps, the " Mountain Bangers," was also present on 
the occasion. This corps was associated on the 15th 
of August 1779, the uniform was scarlet faced black, 
and the members of it were mostly from the neigh- 
bourhood of Kinnitty. Major George Clarke and 
Captain John Drought were officers in this corps. 
The late Colonel Bernard, by whom Castle Bernard 
was erected, and the father of the present owner, was 
for many years representative in Parliament for the 
King's County, and it was by him the first stone of 
the " Parsons Testimonial " was laid at Birr, in 1827, 
as already mentioned (p. 119). 

In Castle Bernard demense, and close to the castle, 
there is a very ancient and interesting stone cross. It 
seems to have been composed of sandstone, and the 


arms have been broken off. On the shaft, however, 
both front and back, are several compartments hav- 
ing figures which appear to have reference principally 
to events in the life of the Patron Saint of Ireland. 
There seems no fair reason to doubt that the second 
lowest compartment on the front of the cross was in- 
tended to represent the conversion to Christianity by 
St. Patrick, of Aengus who was King of Cashel about 
the time of that Saint's mission. We are informed, 
as well by tradition as by history, that during the 
religious ceremony of baptism, the point of the 
Apostle's pastoral staff accidentally penetrated the foot 
of Aengus, who, imagining this to be part of the 
ceremony, bore the pain without flinching or com- 
plaining. This seems to be the incident here repre- 
sented. Aengus was killed at the battle of Killosnodh, 
which, according to the Four Masters, was fought in 
the year 490. As this cross plainly has reference to the 
conversion of Aengus, King of Cashel, it is probable 
that St. Colman, who founded Kilcoleman, near Birr, 
and was son of King Aengus, also founded or governed 
Kinnitty Abbey. This seems more probable from the 
fact, related by Lenigan, that a St. Colman of Kinnitty 
visited St. Brendan of Birr ; for Colman of Kilcole- 
man appears to have been cotemporary with Brendan 
of Birr. A full account and description of this 
interesting cross appeared in the Transactions of the 
" Kilkenny Archaeological Society " some years ago. 

There have been found at Castle Bernard several 
very curiously carved slabs and stones, and in the 


castle-hall there is an exceedingly curious figure of a 
horseman carved in stone, which was exhibited at 
the Great Exhibition in Dublin in 1853, causing much 
interest, and considerable discussion amongst the 
learned who examined it. This figure must have been 
of a very early period, and was found in the year 
1844, in a large earthen rath or ring on Knock-na- 
man, that is, "the hill of God," or " hill of the sun," 
or "hill of the altar," south of the castle, and not far 
from the bank of the Comcor or Birr river, which, 
rising in the Sleibh Bloom Mountains above, flows 
through the demesne. This rath stands high, and is 
a very conspicuous object, surrounded by large stones 
which appear to have undergone the action of fire ; 
and the ashes is still plainly to be seen around 
wherever holes are dug for planting. There are also 
three other somewhat similar rings on the top of Cum- 
ber Mountains, about half a mile from Knocknamann. 
" Cumber " means Aurora, or, the sun at the dawn of 
day. An account and description of this very interest- 
ing stone figure will be found in the Transactions of 
the " Kilkenny Archaeological Society," now the 
" Historical and Archaeological Society of Ireland," 
for July 1850 ; and which also gives much informa- 
tion as to the derivations of the very remarkable 
names of many places on the Kinnitty side of the Sliebh 
Bloom Mountains a district as rich in pagan mytho- 
logical associations as any other in Ireland. 

On a rising ground facing Castle Bernard are the 
ruins of the ancient Church of Druim-cuillinn^ now 


Drumcullen. It has been observed (p. 1) that Druim- 
cuillinn and the river Avon-chara, or terrible river = 
the Comcor or Birr river flowing by it, were men- 
tioned in early times as forming part of the boundary 
of ancient Meath. Thus, although so close to Kinnitty, 
Druimcuillinn was in Fearcall, in ancient Meath, while 
Kinnitty was in Ely, in East Munster, the river, which 
was the boundary, runing between them. Yet it seems 
more convenient to refer to Drumcullen here in con- 
nexion with Kinnitty. Some persons allege that the 
name Drumcullen is derived from Druim, a hill, and 
cuillion^ a holly, for which tree the place appears to 
have been noted ; but it comes, more probably, from 
the Irish name of the Cullen sept, formerly subordinate 
chiefs of this neighbourhood. St. Barrindeus, or 
Barrind, was, according to Usher, abbot of Druim- 
cuillinn in the year 590, and even yet there is a hill 
there called Cnoc-barrind, Knockbarron, that is, the 
hill of Barrind. It appears that about the same year 
St. Barrind was also bishop of Kill-barrind, Kilbarron, 
meaning, the Church of Barrind, near Eosruabh, on the 
bay of Donegal, barony of Tyrehugh, and County 
Donegal ; and which church had been previously 
founded by St. Colman. St. Barrind must, therefore, 
have been a person of importance to be thus, at the 
same time, head of two religious houses in different 
parts of the country, and so far distant from each 
other as were the ancient Druim-cuillinn and Kill- 
barrind ; and to have given his name to a church in 
the one place, and to a hill in the other ; and which, 


after the lapse of thirteen centuries, they still retain. 
It would be now strange, indeed, if an interest were 
not taken even in the ruins of a place which still, after 
so many centuries gone by, bring to mind, as it were, 
the long passed times when St. Barrind presided over 
the ancient Druimcuillinn and Killbarrind. 

From Kinnitty a road leads up a pass of Sliebh 
Bloom Mountains, a drive through which will more 
than repay the trouble. Some of the views from here 
are really beautiful, while those who wish the owners 
of the soil to assist their humble countrymen to live 
by affording them employment, will surely be gratified, 
as well as instructed, by seeing here now clothed in 
luxuriant grasses, tracts of mountain-land which a few 
years since were covered with heather, and almost 

The mountain range now called Slieve Bloom, or 
more properly, Sliebh Bloom, which rises close to 
Kinnitty, forming, as it were, a beautiful back-ground 
to the view of Castle Bernard, was in old times called 
Sliabh Bladma. Of course Sliabk is a mountain, and it 
is said these mountains were called Bladma (pro- 
nounced Blamma), from Bladh, one of the sons of 
Brogan, the grandfather of Mile%us. The highest 
part of the range is distinguished by the long-known 
and celebrated appellation, Ard-na-Erin, or, Height 
of Ireland. It is, indeed, strange that while Irish- 
men and Irishwomen visit other countries in search of 
the grandeur and beauty of nature, they have here at 
home neglected, uncared for, and almost unknown, 


such places as Ard-na-Erin, to which access is so easy. 
The "Height of Ireland" can be most conveniently 
reached by the well-known so far as the name goes 
opening in the Sliebh Bloom Mountains called " the 
Gap of Glendine," which was formerly reckoned the 
only accessible passage from the King's to the Queen's 
County, in a highland range of fourteen miles in 
length, for, with this exception, no road or inlet wa.s 
then to be found between Boherphuca, or "the Devil's 
Koad," near Eoscrea, and O'Neill's "Well, hereafter 
mentioned, as being east of Kinnitty and Castle 

This gap is called " Bladine " in the map published 
by Mercator, at Amsterdam,, in 1623, which name 
seems to mean, the green field on the summit. " Glen- 
dine " appears to signify the gap on the summit, or, 
according to others, the deep glen. The place is in 
reality a very green and grassy opening on the top of 
the range of mountains. From " the Gap " there is 
an ascent of some two or three hundred feet to the top 
of the mountain, and the trouble of ascending will be 
well repaid. Who has not heard of Ard-na-Erin, "the 
Height of Ireland ? " The Ordnance mark on the 
summit is only 1,733 feet over the level of the sea, 
and this, therefore, although very elevated in itself, is 
by no means the highest mountain in Ireland, as the 
name would seem to import. In an ancient Irish poem 
O'Dugan says, that 

" Sliabh Bladhma the fair is over the head 
Of Ossory, above the heights of Eirinn." 


but in this he is wrong, if he means that any part of 
this mountain range is the highest point in Ireland. 
However, although not the highest point in the island, 
Ard-na-Erin is by far the highest in the centre of it, 
and in fact the view from this is bounded almost solely 
by the powers of vision. From this point, on a fair 
day, can be seen all the country from Cummera Moun- 
tain, in the County of "Waterford, to the " Twelve 
Pins of Galway," Croagh Patrick, and Nephin, in 
Mayo ; and from the Mountains of Killarney to Douce 
Mountain, in the County Wicklow an expanse fully 
equal to one-third of Ireland, and comprising some 
ten or eleven counties. The huge "Devil's Bit" 
Mountain the ancient Bearnan Eile in the midst of 
fertile Tipperary, appears at our feet, while the Hill 
of Knocksheegowna, the far-famed abode of the fairies, 
seems only a molehill. It was surely on some such 
elevated seat as this that Goldsmith wrote the lines : 

"E'en now, where Alpine solitudes ascend, 
I sit me down a pensive hour to spend, 
And placed on high above the storm's career, 
Look downward where an hundred realms appear ; 
Lakes, forests, cities, plains, extending wide, 
The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride." 

It is not for the prospect alone, however, that the 
Sliebh Bloom Mountains should be interesting. 
Thesft mountains are frequently mentioned in the old 
annals of Ireland, and Mr. Seward, in the Topographia 
Hibernica, tells us that " there is still remaining on 
these mountains a large pyramid of white stones, the 
true simulacre of the sunfire amongst all the Celtic 


nations." This pyramid was also called " the White 
Obelisk, or Temple of the Sun," and it was likewise 
known as Copeall-ban, or the white horse, and was 
said to have been erected as a landmark or boundary 
between ancient Leinster and Munster, in the fourth 
century. Others say it was a sepulchral monument. 
Whatever be the purpose for which this pyramid was 
originally intended, there seems a very remarkable 
connexion between the different appellations given it. 
At the pagan festival called Uisneach said to have 
been instituted by Tuathal, in the first century horses 
were sacrificed to the sun, and in fact the very name 
Uisneach seems to mean the sacrifice of the horse. The 
fires which are even yet lighted in some parts of Ire- 
land at particular times, and the " bringing of a 
horse's head to the bonfire," are relics of these ancient 
Druidic rites, which, to judge by the names of places 
in it, were nowhere more practised than in the district 
surrounding Ard-na-Erin. 

The Four Masters tell us that in 1580, John, the 
son of the Earl of Desmond, after much plundering, 
and even gaining a battle, proceeded with the sons of 
Gillpatrick, the son of 0' Carroll, and others, to Sliebh 
Bloom, where he was joined by many persons of note 
from Offaley and Leix. The same writers add, " it 
was a fit place for plunder where John, the son of 
James, was on that mountain, for he slept only on 
heaps of stones or earth, and drank nothing but the 
cold water of the limpid stream, from the palms of his 
hands or out of his shoes ; his cooking utensils were 


the long rods of the wood, by which he dressed the 
flesh-meat he took from his enemies." It appears that 
from this mountain Desmond's son made an incursion, 
and burned the monastery of Leix, and also in one 
day plundered seven towns in that territory, including 
Port Leix (Portarlington), after which he went to 
Olenmalure, in the County Wicklow. 

The Four Masters also relate that in the year 1600, 
Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, marched with a force 
into " Fearcall," the country of O'Molloy, where he 
remained nine days, and the people submitted and 
made friendship with him, after which, "he proceeded 
over the Sliebh Bloom Mountains." They add, that on' 
this occasion, he in one day sent forth three predatory 
parties into the territory of Ely 0' Carroll, who wasted 
the whole country, after which, he proceeded south 
through Eoscrea, &c. The same writers state that in 
1601, O'Neill, with several other Irish chiefs and their 
army, " were expeditiously conveyed across the Shan- 
non at Shannon Harbour; from thence they proceeded 
to Delvin MacCoghlan, to Fearcall, to the borders of 
Slieve Bloom, and into Ikerrin." It is interesting in 
connexion with these visits of O'Neill to the Sliebh 
Bloom Mountains, to find a place in these mountains, 
a little to the east of Castle Bernard, called O'Neill's 
Well," even to the present day. 

An inquisition, taken at Drumakeenan, on the 15th 
of December 1621, mentions the bounds of Ely O'Car- 
roll as u running through the country towards the 
south-east, even to the top of the mountain called 


Sliewbleowe, where the limits of the aforesaid country 
or territory of Ely 0' Carroll, and of the territory or 
country called Upper Ossory, in the Queen's County, 
join directly over the town and land of Garida, com- 
monly called ' Scully's land.' ' : Hence, it appears that 
if a person stands withlTToot at each side of the lock- 
spitted boundary, on the summit of Ard-na-Erin, he 
would have a foot at the same time in the King's and 
Queen's Counties, in the territory of O'Carroll of Ely, 
and yet in Upper Ossory, the patrimony of MacGilla- 
phadric, or Fitzpatrick, that once bold chieftain whose 
messenger delivered to the haughty and powerful 
King Henry VIII. the following message : 

11 Sta pedibus Domine Rex. Dominus meus Gilla- 
Patricius me misit ad te, et jussit dicere, si non vis 
castigare Petrum rufum ille faciet bellum contra te." 

That is, Stand my Lord King. My Lord Gilpatrick 
sent me to you and ordered me to say, that if you do 
not choose to punish Eed Peter, he will make war 
against you. " Red Peter " here mentioned was the 
Earl of Ormond, and Lord Deputy of Ireland, who 
was then after making an attack on Gilpatrick' s terri- 
tory ; and it is said a monk was the bearer of this war- 
like message to the king. This spirited Lord of Upper 
Ossory now sleeps unheeded in his lonely tomb at 
Fartagh church, near Ballyspellan. 

Yet, while we look down from Ard-na-Erin, we are 
reminded of a stain upon Upper Ossory which cannot 
be effaced while history remains ; for on the plain im- 
mediately below, the people of Ossory attacked tin- 


brave Dalagais, the favourite troops of Brien Borombhe, 
as they returned to Munster, victorious and wounded, 
from the battle of Clontarf. On that occasion, such of 
the Dalagais as were unable to stand, caused them- 
selves to be tied to stakes, and thus nobly fought, 
intermixed in the ranks with their fellow-warriors. 
" Between seven and eight hundred wounded men," 
says O'Halloran, "pale, emaciated, and supported in 
this manner, appeared mixed with the foremost of the 
troops ; never was such another sight exhibited." It 
is this circumstance which Moore immortalizes in the 
beautiful lines : 

"Forget not our wounded companions, who stood 

In the day of distress by our side ; 
While the moss of the valley grew red with their blood, 

They stirred not, but conquer' d and died. 
That sun which now blesses our arms with his light 

Saw them fall upon Ossory's plain ; 
Oh ! let him not blush when he leaves us to-night, 

To find that they fell there in vain." 

There are other melancholy reflections likely to be 
suggested to a thoughtful Irishman by the view from 
Ard-na-Erin. "Why are these extensive mountains, 
which seem, almost in despite of man, to be running 
into pasture land, not improved ? What a national 
injury it is to have here, and in many other places, 
lying useless, and a fit abode only for grouse, a bound- 
less scope on which thousands of persons could find 
both residence and employment, while the gallant sons 
and fair daughters of Ireland are hurrying away in 


search of a home ! The useful improvements effected 
by the owner of Kinnitty have already been noticed, 
but it seems impossible for individual exertions to ac- 
complish what the country requires in this way. It 
appears to be a duty to society, which should be dis- 
charged by the Government. 

Between two and three miles from Kinnitty, on 
the slope of the Sliebh Bloom Mountains, is the village 
/of Cadamstown Lettybrooke, the fine seat of Colonel 
Drought, being about half-way between the two 
' places. The name Cadamstown appears to be a cor- 
ruption from the former name, which was Bally-mac- 
Adam, or Mac Adams ,town. and the place seems to 
have been of some importance heretofore. Although 
part of Ely O'Carroll, Cadamstown was, in 1548, in 
possession of Edmond a Faihi, or Fahy, or Edmond 
"White, as he was also called, for the Four Masters state 
that this Edmond Fahy having gained a battle in 
Delvin that year, the heads of the slain were brought 
" to the town of Edmond Fahy, Bally-mac-Adam, in 
Kinel Fearga, in Ely O'Carroll, and were raised on 
spears as trophies of victory." This Edmond Fahy 
does not appear, however, to have been long in posses- 
sion of this place, for the same writers, at 1549, the 
year following, tell us that "Bally-Mac-Adam was 
taken from Edmond Fahy, and the O'Carrolls were re- 
instated in it, and which was a source of great joy and 
gladness to the people of Ely." 

It may perhaps seem out of place to refer to Kil- 
coleman here in connexion with places so distant 


from it. It has been seen, however (p. 147), that 
"the vill of Kylecolman," with twenty acres, of 
the annual value of 4s. ; and " the rectory of Kyle- 
colman,," as well as " Kerneyttys," or Kinnitty, 
belonged to Monaincha. There also appears to 
have been an early connexion between the religious 
houses of Kinnitty and Kilcoleman. For these 
reasons, therefore, it seems more convenient to 
oifer a few observations regarding Kilcoleman, 
here after the account of Kinnitty and neighbour- 

The place called Kilcoleman, or Kilcolman, mean- 
ing Colman' s Church, where the ruins of the old 
church stand, is about three miles from Birr. The 
previous name of Kilcoleman was Daire-More, that 
is, nemus magnus, or rather, the great oak wood. 
It is described in the Life of Pulcherius as being 
11 between Munster and Leinster, but in Munster, 
that is, in the country of Ely." This place also 
appears to have been occasionally called " Insula 
Vitse," or the Island of Life, but' 'for what reason, 
or whether it was in consequence of its early con- 
nexion with Inchenebo, the " Island of the Living," 
does not clearly appear. 

There were many Irish Saints named Colman, 
and, in fact, upwards of fifty of that name have 
been commemorated. Uher states, however, that 
St. Colman, the son of Aengus, King of Munster, 
and whose mother's name was Darenia, flourished 
about the year 570, and that he built Dairemore, 


or Doremore, in the territory of Ely. It has been 
already mentioned in the account of Kinnitty, why 
it seems probable that this same St. Colman, son 
of Aengus, also presided over that abbey. Kilcole- 
man is likewise the name of the parish. 



THE very ancient and interesting place commonly 
called Saint Kyrans, but properly Seir Kyran, Seir 
Keran, or Seir Kieran, is reputed to have been the 
seat of the oldest bishopric in Ireland. The seat of 
the bishopric of Ossory appears, however, to have 
been removed in the year 1052, from this to Aghaboe, 
in the Queen's County, and from thence afterwards to 
Kilkenny ; but Sier Kieran still remains part of the 
diocese of Ossory, although nearly surrounded by the 
diocese of Killaloe. The ruins which still remain here 
are some four miles from Birr, about the centre of the 
parish of Sier Kieran, in the barony of Eallybritt, and 
in the old district of Ely 0' Carroll, in ancient Mun- 
ster, which, as already shown, included part of the 
modern King's County. 

This place was formerly called Saiger, or Saygher, 
which is said to have been the name of a fountain, or 
it might probably come from the Irish Saigeoir, a 
sawyer, owing to the number of wooden buildings of 
which the town was composed. The appellation Seir 


is probably formed from Saygher, or it may be from 
Saer, a carpenter. The place is called " Shyre " in an 
inquisition, taken in 1568, and again is marked as 
" Syre" on Mercator's map, published in 1623, while 
on the Down Survey, printed about 1657, it is called 
" Sirekeran." 

In late days there is very little of the ruins at Seir 
Kyran remaining, to show the former greatness of the 
place, a few mouldering walls, with a low stone roofed 
tower about fifteen feet diameter, and a little more in 
height, comprising nearly the entire to be seen. "We 
know, however, that even so early as the year 444, 
there was a celebrated college here, and we are told 
that a town grew up and increased to be an extensive 
city, around the abbey founded here by St. Kieran. 
The . traces of the numerous deep ditches and high 
ramparts about the place, encompassing nearly ten 
acres ; with the crumbling ruins of a sod fort, indicate 
even in late years that the place was formerly of much 
importance, and, if necessary, corroborate so far what 
we have learned of its past history. 

St. Kieran the elder, the founder of this abbey, is 
said to have been born in the fifth century, at Cape 
Clear, or, as Mr. Harris states, at Clear Island, in the 
ancient district of Corcamluighe, in Munster. There 
is yet an ancient church named Kilkierau, in the 
Island of Cape Clear, and a part of the coast is called 
in Irish, " Kieran's strand." Lugneus, a noble of 
Ossory, was father of St. Kieran, and his mother was 
Liadian of Corcamluighe. According to Colgan, St. 


Kieran studied at Eome, and met St. Patrick in Italy, 
who desired him to go before him to Ireland, and at 
the well Fuaran, " a living fountain/' about the centre 
of the kingdom, to build a monastery where he (St. 
Patrick) would afterwards visit him. Whether such 
conversation took place or not, it is certain that Birr, 
which is only a few miles from the ruins at Seir 
Kyran, was long reputed to be the centre of Ireland ; 
while it is also true that a small stream, even yet 
called Fuaian, still purls away on the east side of the 
ruins at Seir Kyran. To the south of these ruins 
there is still likewise to be seen the holy well, or 
" living fountain," supposed to have been then alluded 
to by the Apostle of Ireland. Colgan states that in 
the earliest ages of Christianity in Ireland, St. Kyran 
founded a cell at Saygher, and he adds, "the blessed 
bishop Kyran began to live there like a hermit, because 
all around it was a wide spread desert and thickly 

St. Kyran is called " Primogenitus Sanctus Hiber- 
niee," the first born Saint of Ireland ; and the Abbe 
Macgeoghan styles him the first of the Apostles of 
Ireland. "We are also informed that St. Patrick gave 
him a bell which was set up at Saiger, and was the 
first in Ireland, and that this bell remained silent until 
the Saint had reached the site destined for his monas- 
tery, whereupon the sweet tones of this blessed bell 
were heard to notify the fact. It is certain, however, 
that a bell belonging to this monastery was, in very 
early times indeed, held in great veneration through- 


out Ossory. St. Kyran of Saygher is also included by 
early Irish writers amongst the "twelve Apostles of 
Erin," and is likewise known as " Kyran the elder," 
to distinguish him from his cotemporary, St. Kyran of 
Clonmacnoise. It is recorded that St. Patrick, accom- 
panied by Aengus, King of Munster, and several 
chiefs, afterwards visited Saygher, according to his 
promise, and was there entertained by St. Kyran ; 
while on another occasion, the army of the King of 
Cashel was supplied with food at this monastery. 
Colgan, in the Life of St. Kyran, gives an account of 
the internal arrangements and regulations of this 
religious house in early times, from which an idea of 
its great extent and hospitality can be formed. 

The exact date of St. Kyran's death is uncertain, 
but his festival was celebrated on the 5th of March. 
In course of time after his death, a monastery for 
Canons Regular of the order of St. Augustine, and 
dedicated to St. Kyran, was founded at Saiger. St. 
Kyran was succeeded at Saiger by St. Carthaigh, 
called "the elder," who was son or grandson of 
Aengus, King of Minister, already mentioned. It is 
said that Carthaigh was originally a disciple of St. 
Kyran, and having been guilty of a serious offence, he 
was sentenced by Kyran to expiate it by doing 
penance for seven years in a strange land. On the 
return of Carthaigh, however, he gave such proofs of 
his religion and virtue, that he became the favourite 
of Kyran, and by his special appointment when on his 
death-bed, Carthaigh became his successor. St. Car- 


thaigh is said to have died the 6th of March, in the 
year 540. 

We have been handed down on good authority, the 
names of nearly thirty superiors who presided over 
this abbey from the death of St. Carthaigh to the year 
1079, when died the Abbot Cellach, surnamed " Kam- 
har," or the lusty, who was also Abbot of Birr ; and 
we have likewise been given the dates of several 
remarkable events which occurred here during the 
same period. It will be sufficient, however, to refer 
to a few of these names and events. Thus in the year 
570, St. Sedna, or Sedon, was Bishop here, and died 
on the 1st of March that year ; and in 739, the Abbot 
Laygnen, the son of Donenny, was killed. In the 
year 839, the abbey was plundered, and in 841, it was 
pillaged and set on fire by the Ostmen ; while again 
in the following year, it was sacked by the Danes. In 
855, Siadhal of " Desert-Ciaran " died; in 867, the 
Abbot Corbmac, " esteemed a very learned scribe," 
died; and in 868, died the Abbot and Bishop Com- 
fugh, who was also " a learned scribe." In the year 
907, Corbmac, " Bishop of Seir Kyran," died ; and in 
920, died the Abbot Aedh O'Eaithnen, " who was 
truly remarkable for great wisdom and exemplary 
piety." In 951, Godfrid, the son of Sitric, with the 
Danes of Dublin, " did plunder and spoil the Abbey 
of Disert-Ciaran " ; and the same year the Abbot 
Kenfoelad, the son of Suibhne, died, " in pilgrimage 
at Glendaloch." In 952, this abbey was plundered 
and burned to ashes by the Munstermen ; in 961, 

, 8EIR KYRAN. 171 

Feargal, the son of Cathald, died at Seir Keran, " after 
performing his pilgrimage " ; and in 964, there died 
the Abbot Cormac Hua Killene, who was also Abbot 
of Eoscommon and Tuaimgrene, and " was in uni- 
versal estimation as well for his extensive knowledge 
as for his truly exemplary life." In the year 1004, 
died Fogarthach, " Abbot of Seir Keran and Glen- 

To the learned and laborious Friar John Clyn of 
Kilkenny, we are indebted for the particulars of an 
extraordinary part of the history of Seir Keran, being 
the account of a trial by battle, in which the bishop, 
St. Leger, about the end of the thirteenth century, 
recovered the manor of Seir Kyran in a writ of right, 
by obtaining the victory over his adversary. Usher, 
in his Primardice, mentions this scandalous proceeding 
thus : " Dominus Galfridus de sancto Leodegario 
Episcopus Ossoriensis acquisivit per duellum manerium 
de Seir Kyran." 

In the church of Saiger in more recent times, there 
was preserved a service of plate presented by Queen 
Mary, shortly after the battle of the Boyne, in token of 
her gratitude to the Almighty for the preservation of 
her husband in that important conflict. During the 
troubles of 1798, this plate was taken from the gentle- 
man who had the care of it, and having been subse- 
quently recovered, through the influence of the Roman 
Catholic Parish Priest, in a very battered condition, it 
was repaired and re-gilt at the expense of the parish. 
However, it afterwards vanished altogether, no person 
knows where. 


Mr. Harris tells us that on the plantation of Ely 
O'Carroll, in 1619, Jonas Wheeler, Bishop of Ossory, 
acquired the manor of Breaghmore, then called 
Breaghmore-wheeler, adjoining Seir Kyran, and which 
consisted of 1,000 acres of profitable, and 139 acres of 
unprofitable land, and that King James I. afterwards 
confirmed it to him. 

The finding of the Inquisition, taken at Lemy- 
vanane, now Leap Castle, in December 1568, when 
this priory was surrendered, is curious, as showing 
the state of Seir Kyran more than three centuries ago. 
The result is thus given by Mr. Archdall : " The 
prior was found to be seized of the site of the same, 
containing one acre, in which were the walls of a 
church, a small tower, a great stone house covered 
with thatch now used as the parish church, and two 
other houses then the residence of the canons ; worth, 
excluding repairs, 4s. 4d. yearly. The villa of Shyre 
belonged to the canons, in which were six cottages, 
and forty acres of arable and pasture lands, of the 
annual value of 17s. 8d. The Eectory of Shyre, alias 
Shyre Keran, belonged also to the said priory ; and 
the tithes and alterages were of the yearly value of 
40s., besides the curate's stipend, taxes, &c." This 
was granted to Sir William Taafe, who assigned to 
James, Earl of Roscommon. 

The small tower, " una turris parva" thus men- 
tioned as having been standing at Saigher in 1568, is 
still there, apparently little changed by the additional 
300 years which have since passed away. This tower 


is so curious and uncommon the more so when taken 
in connexion with other circumstances as to deserve 
some special notice here. About twenty feet high, 
with a conical stone roof, this tower was evidently 
erected subsequent to the building that once stood be- 
side it, and against the south-east angle of which it 
was placed. It has a great many loopholes around, 
each some three or four inches square on the outside, 
but levelled off so as to adjoin each other on the 
inside, these holes being also at different heights. 
From the appearance of this tower, with other reasons, 
it seems very probable it was used for keeping up in 
it a consecrated fire. These religious fires were by 
no means so rare as some may suppose ; and it is well 
established that the Druids kept fires burning as 
emblems of the sun or life. Thus, according to 
Macgeoghan, there was a Druidical fire lighted at 
Ilachta, which he places in the barony of Clonlisk, and 
King's County, and which appears on Yaugandy's 
Map of Ireland, published in 1757, to be situate about 
the modern Brusna, which is not very far from Seir 
Kyran. This was an institution of the monarch 
Tuathal Teachmar, as Macgeoghan also states, the 
place it was held in having been cut off Munster by 
the same king ; and he adds, that it was forbidden to 
supply fires with fuel on November eve until they 
were first renewed from that holy fire. At Ilachta waa 
the great fire temple of Baal, or the sun, and although 
writers differ as to the situation of Ilachta, it is a 
strange coincidence to find a hill in the vicinity of Seir 


Kyran still called Bellhill, which, although generally 
supposed to be so called from St. Kyran' s Bell, is 
evidently named from Baal, Beal, or Bel, the sun, the 
god whom the celts worshipped. Knoc Grian, the hill 
of the sun, in the County Limerick, is a name of the 
same import as Knoc-Bell, or Bell-hill. In the neigh- 
bourhood of Seir Kyran there is likewise a townland 
called Grange, which also seems to have acquired the 
name from Grian, the sun. 

Early writers inform us that this practice was con- 
tinued after the introduction of Christianity. Thus, 
we learn that St. Patrick had his consecrated fire, and 
that St. Bridged had her perpetual fire at Kildare, 
until, as Ware tells us, Henry de Loundres, Arch- 
bishop of Dublin, put out this latter fire. There was 
also a sacred fire kept up at Clonfert, and in other 
places. Thus, St. Kyran had his consecrated fire at 
Saigher, probably in imitation of the Druidical one, 
which was not far distant from his monastery. Col- 
gan, in his Life of St. Kyran, states that " St. Kyran, 
the bishop, resolved that the fire consecrated at Easter 
should not be extinguished in his monastery for the 
whole year." The same writer informs us that a boy 
named Chichi^eus, of Cluain, who belonged to the 
monastery at Clonmacnoise, having spent some days 
with St. Kyran at the monastery at Saigher, he there 
extinguished the fire, and, as a judgment from heaven, 
was killed by wolves next day ; which, when his 
master, St. Kyran the younger, Abbot of Clonmac- 
noise, learned, he went to Saigher to St. Kyran, sen., 


and was received with great honour, " but that there 
was not then any fire in the monastery because all the 
fires through the place used daily to be kindled from 
the consecrated fire." This shows beyond doubt that 
formerly there was a sacred fire kept up here, and it 
appears very likely that this tower was used as the fire 

As to the wolves which, as Colgan states, killed the 
boy Chichideus in the neighbourhood of Seir Kyran, 
we have already seen that this locality was " thickly 
wooded," and it is at least an interesting fact, that 
upon the Down Survey Map there is a place im- 
mediately adjoining Seir Kyran called Breckanagh, 
probably from breach, a wolf, and ana, misfortune ; 
and even at the present day, a townland adjoining 
these ruins is called Breaghmore, from breach (breagh), 
a wolf, and more, great. It is also very remarkable, 
that some years a^o the skull of a large animal said 
by competent judges to be the skull of a bear with 
a quantity of prostrate bog oak trees, was found at a 
place called Clonbrone, immediately adjoining Breagh- 
more, and which will be more fully referred to. 

It appears that in early times Saigher was the burial 
place of the Lords of Upper Ossory, and of other 
princes. The portions of the ancient walls of the 
church-yard which remain are built of concrete, or 
pudding stone, supposed to have been brought from 
the distant mountain. These portions of this wall 
are very curious, and have the appearance of great 
antiquity. The wall appears to have been built with 


a considerable slope, or batter, inwards at the top from 
both sides. It is recorded that in very early times, a 
noble lady, daughter of the then Lord of Ossory, in- 
duced her husband, who was of royal family, to bring 
numerous masons from Meath, and erect a wall around 
the burial place of her family at Saygher. Perhaps 
it is a portion of this identical wall that is yet to be 
seen in this venerable place. Some thirty years ago, 
a curious and grotesque figure made of freestone, and 
resembling an Egyptian idol, was to be seen here in 
the eastern gable of the church of that day. There 
were then also in the burial ground some freestone 
slabs, with inscriptions in the Irish character. One 
of these appeared to be the gravestone placed over 
11 gentle Oran," who died in the year 1066, and was 
Abbot of Aghaboe, to which the seat of the See of 
Ossory had been removed from Saigher in 1052. 
Most of these interesting relics have now disappeared, 
although since the present worthy Eector, the Eev. 
John H. Scott, has had charge of this time-honoured 
spot, of which he is so justly proud, no exertions for 
its preservation have been wanting. 

It may not be out of place to conclude this notice 
of Seir Kyran with a poem illustrating one of the 
legends connected with it, and which was published 
some years since under the name " Enigenencis" 
There is still in the vicinity the remains of an aged 
hawthorn bush, called " St. Kyran's Bush,'' which is 
held in great reverence, and is the subject of many 
strange stories. 



A HAWTHORN stands on yonder hill, 

Bare, desolate, and lone 
A token frail, but faithful still, 

Of centuries long flown. 

The startled ear, at even-time, 
When weird- winds wander free, 

May hear the ghostly Mass-Bell chime, 
Beneath that hoary tree. 

And still, around the peasant's hearth, 

The legend strange is told, 
How, never touched by hands of earth, 

Rang out that Bell of old. 

They tell how Sainted Patrick's hand 

On Kieran's head was laid, 
While thus he spoke in stern command 

" Ne'er shall thy step be stayed, 

" Till, sweet as song by seraphs sung, 

Which saints alone may hear, 
A chime by hands unseen be rung, 

To charm thy mortal ear. 

" There churches seven thou shalt build ; 

But ages yet shall see 
Their trampled dust and see fulfill'd 

For aye this prophecy 

" When strewn the Temples thou shalt raise, 

A tree, sown by thy hand, 
Shall live and preach to distant days, 

God's blessing on the land." 

He wandered forth, and wandered far, 

That ancient Pilgrim Saint 
Nor flood nor foe his path could bar, 

Till way-worn here and faint, 


178 KILL YON. 

He paused when, hark ! upon his ear, 

With joy no tongue can tell, 
Like seraph-songs the sainted hear, 

Bang out the unseen Bell ! 

And here he built his churches seven, 

Ere summer thrice was gone 
Won many a soul from earth to heaven, 

And spread God's benison. 

And though above his Cloisters fair 

Now rots the clotted weed, 
Though all their beauties blighted were 

To glut a tyrant's greed 

The hushed ear still, at even-time, 

When weird-winds wander free, 
May hear the mystic Mass-Bell chime, 

Beneath yon aged tree. 

At the place now called Killyon, about a mile and 
a-half from Saigher, St. Kyran the elder founded a 
nunnery, probably the first in Ireland. By the divi- 
sions of the country at the time, however, as already 
noticed, the monastery at Seir Kyran was in Ely, in 
eastern Munster, but the nunnery at Killyon was in 
Fearcall, in the kingdom of Meath the Comcor, or 
Birr river, forming the boundary between these divi- 
sions in this neighbourhood. Clonbrone, referred to 
hereafter, was also in Fearcall, but owing to the con- 
nexion between these places, it seems better to refer 
to them immediately following each other, although 
not all in the ancient Ely 0' Carroll. 

The remains of the very old religious establishment 
at Killyon stand on a slight eminence close to the road 
leading from Birr to Kinnitty, and almost half-way 


between them. Mr. Archdall calls this place Killiad- 
huin, and says that all we can learn about it is, that in 
the beginning of the fifth century, St. " Keran of 
Saigher" founded the nunnery of Killiadhuin for his 
mother, Liadana, near to his own abbey. This seems 
to be almost the entire information to be now gathered 
concerning the early history of this place. It appears, 
however, that if not the very first, this must, at all 
events, have been one of the earliest nunneries in Ire- 
land, and could we now see it as founded nearly 
fourteen centuries ago, no doubt there would be 
a great contrast between this primitive nunnery of 
Liadana, and the present very beautiful convents in 
the neighbourhood, at Birr and Roscrea. The name 
Liadana, or Liadhuin pronounced as if written 
Leean by having prefixed to it till, or kill, a 
cell, or place of retirement, forms Killyon, the name 
thus preserved through so many centuries. About 
thirty years ago, a considerable part of the remains of 
this religious house were standing, and included the 
gate-house, with a wall about twelve feet high, and a 
small round flanking tower at one of the corners of the 
quadrangle. The loopholes of this tower commanded 
the outside of the wall, on two faces of the enclosure. 
The gate-house was square, and the gate itself must 
have been capable of being very firmly secured, for 
there were diagonal holes running through the 
masonry on each side, apparently intended for chains. 
In early times this must have been a place of great 
hospitality, for about the year 1847, there was 


discovered there an underground apartment, which, in 
its days, was evidently a cellar. In this cellar were 
found a very curious iron key, and a number of old- 
fashioned broken bottles, made of dark coloured 
glass, as also fragments of high and narrow drinking 
glasses ; and about the same time there were also 
found near this cellar, a lump of yellowish metallic 
alloy, resembling pyrites, and several large antique 
shaped iron keys, and part of a large iron knife or 
sword. There were then also dug up numerous short 
horns of the old Irish kine, and the cooking hearth in 
which meat was dressed and as it seemed in great 
abundance was also discovered. This hearth was 
placed in the middle of the court-yard, and did not 
appear to have been sheltered from the weather. The 
writer of this account of it saw the place very shortly 
after the discovery referred to. The hearth was a 
circular basin of about ten feet diameter, and two and 
a-half feet deep, the bottom and sides being lined with 
granite rocks, each containing about one or two cubic 
feet. Close by the edges of this pit, on the surface 
of the ground around it, were several similar rocks, 
which, as well as the lining of the basin, exhibited 
marks of having been subjected to intense heat. 
There was a considerable quantity of charcoal, mixed 
with ashes, all around. 

In writing of the Fianna Eirionn, or Fenians the 
Irish militia instituted before the Christian era, but 
who attained the greatest perfection about the third 
century under the celebrated Finn-mac-Coole 


Keating describes a somewhat similar plan used by 
them for dressing meat. It appears an ox was often 
dressed entire in this manner, the hot stones being 
placed within the carcase. These rude cooking places 
in Ireland have been called by the peasantry Falachda 
Fiann, which signifies, the Fenian encampment, but 
the true appellation seems to be brothlac, as given in 
O'Reilly's Dictionary, and which is formed from broth, 
fire, or meat, and leach, a large stone or flag. It seems 
agreed that this primitive mode of cooking in Ireland 
must be of great antiquity indeed, and it is also very 
probable that the custom was continued on for many 
centuries, and was still in use so late as the four- 
teenth, or even the fifteenth century. In the Fair 
Maid of Perth, Sir Walter Scott refers to this mode of 
cooking as being still used in Scotland in the end of the 
fourteenth century. In there describing the prepara- 
tions for a funeral banquet held at that period, he 
writes that " Pits wrought in the hill-side, and lined 
with heated stones, served as ovens for stewing 
quantities of beef, mutton, and venison." It is un- 
necessary to say that few were more correct in describ- 
ing ancient customs than was this great writer. This 
primitive mode of cooking food appears to have been 
used in the Sandwich Islands even up to a late period. 
It is scarcely necessary to mention that the term 
" Fenian," of unhappy notoriety in modern times, has 
originated with the once renowned militia of Finn-mac- 

It is much to be regretted that in late years this 


interesting ruin at Killyon has almost entirely disap- 
peared ; for the gateway, the flanking tower, and the 
wall which enclosed the lawn, have all vanished. 
These were all barbarously pulled down, and the 
materials, as also the granite rocks belonging to the 
curious, ancient cooking hearth, were broken up and 
used for repairing roads, or building a police barracks 
in the neighbourhood. " Sic transit gloria mundi" 
There now remains nothing to mark the site of the 
once celebrated nunnery of St. Liadhuin, save the 
crumbling ruin of a small gable-wall ; every trace 
which could bear testimony to the pious zeal of the 
nun, or to the generous hospitality of the Biadhtack 
of former times, having been obliterated. 

Killyon, and other lands in that neighbourhood, 
were the property of Terence and John Coghlan, in the 
reign of King James II. How the Coghlans acquired 
these lands does not appear, but they forfeited them 
when William III. succeeded to the throne. These, 
together with other lands, were subsequently sold to 
John Asgill of Eoss Castle, by the Commissioners for 
sale of forfeited estates. The Conveyance describes 
them as, "the manor of Killyon, with the castles, 
towns, and lands of Eathure," &c., &c. ; and adds 
that these lands had been u the estate of Terence and 
John Coghlan, attainted." A person, apparently of 
some consequence, named Herbert, or Harbert, resided 
at Killyon in 1634 ; for, by a Deed, made on the 1st 
of January that year, Daniel M'Gruilfoyle conveyed to 
him and others, including Eobert Sweetman of Birr, 


the manor of jfoinrone, &c., as " Nic Harbert de 
Killion." This proBaHy was the Herbert said to 
have been interred at Seir Kyran. We also find 
that "Daniel Pritchett, of Killyon, gentleman, and 
Hugh Conraghee, of Ballinahown, gentleman," were 
sureties in 1704, for the Eev. John Kennedy, who 
was then Eoman Catholic Parish Priest of " Seir 
Keran, Koscomroe, and Kinnitty." Killyon and the 
adjoining lands, are now the property of John V. 
Cassidy, Esq., Barrister-at-Law. 

The remarkable townland of Clonbrone, is not far 
from Killyon, being about half way between Killyon 
and Birr, and a mile or so from each place. It has 
been already stated that Clonbrone was in ancient 
Fearcall. The lands of Clonbrone were also included 
in the grant to Asgill, before referred to. In the 
account of Birr it has been mentioned (p. 43), that 
the remains of what must have been celebrated glass 
works, about the year 1623, were discovered at 
Clonbrone in late years. There is mention of Clon- 
brone, however, at a much earlier period. In the 
Life of Saint Canice, who succeeded Saint Kyran at 
Saiger, taken from a work in the library of the Dukes 
of Burgundy at Brussels, and edited by the Most 
Noble the Marquis of Ormond, it is stated that Saint 
Canice used to retire to Clonbrone, and that he there 
performed several miracles, and subjected himself to 
many rigorous acts of penance and fasting. A full 
account of this, and of some of the miracles performed 
by him there, will be found in paragraph 33 and the 


following paragraphs, in this Life of Saint Canice. 
It would appear from the words " silva propinqua," 
the wood near at hand, from which the deer came 
each day to the Saint, that Clonbrone, as well as Seir 
Eyran and Breaghmore, had woods in the vicinity at 
this early period. It has been mentioned in the 
account of Seir Kyran, that some years ago, the skull 
of a bear was found at Clonbrone, adjoining the town- 
land of Breaghmore. This skull was found here in 
1848, at a depth of about 7 feet, amongst prostrate 
bog oak trees, by persons making a new channel for 
the Birr or Comcor river. The finding of this skull 
caused a good deal of curiosity at the time, and gave 
rise to considerable discussion in the Boyal Irish 
Academy. Besides Colgan's statement as to the 
death of the boy, Chichideus, by wolves in this neigh- 
bourhood, and the fact of the adjoining townland 
being called Breaghmore, from the "great wolf," 
there are other interesting circumstances connected 
with the finding of this bear's skull at Clonbrone. 
Thus it has been seen that the Comcor river near 
the bed of which the skull was found flows on the 
King's County side, from a branch of the Sliebh 
Bloom Mountains. On the Queen's County side of 
the same range, is the source of another river, popu- 
larly called " the Delours," of the meaning of which 
name, the people appear to be ignorant. It seems, 
however, to be simply, De Vours that is, the river 
" of the bear." It is curious how this river received 
this French appellation, but if there were bears 


prowling heretofore on the Queen's County side of the 
mountain, thus giving this river its name, it is not to 
be wondered at, if some of these animals should also 
ramble on the King's County side, by the banks of 
the Comcor, and finally die there. Neither is it im- 
probable, that the oak trees then, found with the bear's 
skull, once formed part of the woods in which Saint 
Kyran had fixed his solitary cell 1400 years ago, and 
wherein Saint Canice had since done penance and 
fasted. The name Clonbrone, seems indeed to be 
derived from this later circumstance, as Cluain-a-broin 
is literally, " the retired place of the fast." 


ON IT, IN 1828. 

THE well known and remarkable little town called 
Shinrone, is about six miles south of Birr. About 
three miles from Birr, on the way to Shinrone, is 
Rathbeg, where, according to Colgan, Saint Abban 
built the monastery of Rathbecain, in Ely, and died, 
in 650. The garden wall of the monastery, and an 
ancient road to it, could be traced some years ago. 
A great quantity of human bones were also dug up 
there, but very little more is known about the place. 
After passing Rathbeg on the way to Shinrone, is 
Sharavogue House, the elegant residence of Colonel 
the Honorable John C. Westenra, who for several 
years represented the King's County in Parliament. 
From Sharavogue there is a beautiful view of the 
I" Devil's Bit," and other mountains of ancient 
Ormond. Rathmore, where the O'Carrolls had one 
of their castles, is also in the vicinity of Sharavogue. 
Shinrone is the name of the parish and townland, 
as well as of the town. The old name was Suidhe-an- 


Roin, which, according to O'Donovan, signifies the 
"sitting place of the seal, or hairy person." How- 
ever, as Roin is generally found spelled with a capital 
letter in the name, it is more probable it is here in- 
tended for a man's name, and that Suidhe-an-Roin, 
really signifies "the seat of Eoin." The town consists 
of Shinrone proper the eastern end, and Cloghmoile, 
now generally spelled Cloughmoyle the western 
portion. At Cloughmoyle, the ruins of the castle 
occupy a prominent place on a steep hill, commanding 
the bridge and river. These ruins are within the 
grounds of George Percy Foe, Esq., whose residence 
is near at hand. Cloghmoile seems formed from clock, 
a stone, and mael, an adjective, signifying bald or 
pointless. Mael is also a noun, and as such, means a 
hill or hillock. 

The neighbourhood of Shinrone appears in early 
times to have been a chosen place for sun-worship, and 
accordingly there were some years ago at Maghery- 
more, close to the town, several of the Druidical up- 
right stones, common in Ireland. The climbing of 
these stones was heretofore one of the holiday pas- 
times of the young men of Shinrone. The peasantry 
looked on them as finger stones, thrown thither from 
liindufte Mountain, by Finn-mac-Coole and his com- 
panions, in a trial of strength. If anything were 
wanting, to prove that these stones were used for 
religious purposes in days long gone by, the mum- 
Magherymore, that is, " the great field of adoration," 
would fully establish that fact ; and there are besides, 


several other places in the neighbourhood, the names 
of which seem to be derived in like manner, as 
Greenagort or Gortgreen, which means, " the field of 
the sun." 

The Four Masters tell us, that in the year 1533, 
the Earl of Kildare marched a second time into Ely, 
to aid Ferganainm 0' Carroll to Suidhe-an-Roin, and 
that when besieging the castle, one of his best con- 
stables was slain, and after having taken the castle he 
^ returned home. 

The Mac Guilfoyles appear in former times to have 
ruled over Shinrone and neighbourhood, subject, 
however, to the O'Carrolls. O'Heerin, in reference to 
O'Quinlevan, and Mac Giollaphail, or Mac Gilfoyle, 
has the following : 

" A chief for whom the nut-trees produce fair fruit, 
Kules over Clan Quinlevan of immense wealth ; 
The scion of Biorra of the warlike tribe, 
Is Mac Gilfoyle of the fair fortress." 

Shinrone appears to have been called by different 
names in past times. Thus in the inquisition taken 
in 1551, finding the rectories belonging to the hos- 
pital, near Nenagh, called Tyone. it is spelled " Goyno- 
voyne," and the rectory was found of the yearly value 
of twenty shillings. Subsequently in 1562, it was 
granted to Oliver Grace, by the name of " Coynrane ; " 
and again by letters patent, dated 20th of August 
1680, the rectory church, and tithes of "Teyneraine, 
alias Synroan," were granted to John, Bishop of Kil- 
laloe, and his successors, in trust for the clergy of 
the diocese. It does not appear clearly by whom the 


church of Shinrone was originally founded, but from 
various circumstances, it seems probable, that, it 
was founded by Saint Ruadhan, the patron Saint 
of Lorha. 

The Four Masters record that in the year 1600, 
Redmond Burke, son of John " of the Shamrocks)" 
and his brother, took many castles in Ely, and the 
Ormonds, amongst which was Suidhe-an-Roin. 

By inquisition taken at Philipstown in 1626, it 
was found that Oliver Grace was seized at his death 
of part of the rectory of " Soynroane," part of the then 
lately dissolved monastery of St. John (Tyone), near 
Nenagh; that he died the 27th of August 1626, and 
that his son and his widow were entitled to his pro- 
perty. By another inquisition taken in 1640, Daniel 
Mac Gilfoyle was found seized of the manor, town 
and lands of " Synroane," then containing ten houses, 
&c., and also of the lands of Magherymore and Gort- 
green, and several other lands, t>arcel of the aforesaid 
manor. He was also found seized of a Court Leet, 
and Court Baron, to be held within said manor ; of 
two fairs to be held in Synroane annually, on the 
feasts of Saint Peter and Saint Martin, and of a 
weekly Thursday market, with all profits. It was 
further found that said Daniel Mac Gilfoyle, by Deed 
of 1634, had enfeoffed of all the premises, one 
Herbert or Harbert, of Killion, Robert Sweetman, of 
Birr, and others ; that King Charles II., by letters 
patent, in the thirteenth year of his reign, granted 
all the premises to said Daniel, and his heirs, and 


that Owen Mac Gilfoyle his cousin-german and heir, 
was then nineteen years of age, and married. 

In December 1666, sixty one and a half acres of 
unprofitable land in " Sinrone," with 534 acres of 
Corolanty, and other lands, were granted to Cornet 
Eichard Bancroft, and Elizabeth his wife, daughter 
and heiress of Henry White, then deceased. In 
February following, Sir "William Flower and John 
Baldwin, obtained a patent of Shinrone and Kilbally- 
soke, with a castle thereon, and 576 acres, together 
with part of several other denominations, in all about 
2,678 acres; subject to 33, 9s. 4|d. Quit Eent. 
The portion of these lands which fell to the share of 
the patentee, Baldwin, subsequently passed into the 
hands of the well known Provost Baldwin, who 
bequeathed them to Trinity College, Dublin. In 
acknowledgment of this bequest, a splendid cenotaph 
is erected to Provost Baldwin's memory, in the 
Examination Hall of Trinity College. 

It has been already mentioned in the account of 
Birr, that in 1689, Colonel Oxburgh the father-in- 
law of Lieutenant Colonel Owen Carroll, having been 
appointed Provost Marshall of the King's County, he 
caused a gallows to be erected at Shinrone, on which 
he had a poor man hanged, because some mutton was 
found hidded in his garden. 

In the year 1792, the rectory and vicarage of 
Shinrone was united, by Act of Parliament, to the 
rectory, and vicarage of Kilmurry, and these were 
afterwards episcopally united to the rectory of 


Kilcommon. It appears from what has been written, 
that from ten houses in the year 1640, Shinrone has 
increased to its present size. It seems better to leave 
Kileommon, and some other remarkable places in the 
vicinity of Shinrone, unnoticed for the present, while 
we refer to circumstances in connexion with the town 
of Shinrone, and the surrounding country, which, 
occurring in comparatively recent times, form an 
important portion of the great history of Catholic 
Emancipation. The details of these circumstances 
cannot, it is believed, be read without interest, parti- 
cularly when related after the lapse of nearly forty 
years, by one who was eye-witness of what he endea- 
vours to describe, and who took a prominent part in a 
considerable portion of it. 

In the year 1828, the popular excitement occa- 
sioned by the deferring of Catholic Emancipation, had 
reached to a great height, and simultaneous meetings 
were held in all the Parishes of Ireland. Whether 
these assemblages were at the time recommended 
with a view to overawe the Government, by an ex- 
hibition of physical force, or with whatever other 
view, it is now immaterial to inquire. Held, how- 
ever, they were, and such meetings having taught the 
rural population the practice of multitudinous gather- 
ings, and numerical demonstrations, the peasantry of 
the country soon after began to assemble together, 
not by parishes, nor yet by baronies, but by the more 
extended scale of counties and provinces. 

In the year mentioned, immense numbers had 


congregated at, and marched in military procession 
through, the towns of Thurles, Cashel, and Temple- 
more. For some time these assemblies went on with- 
out opposition, and unaccompanied by violence. In 
the month of September 1828, a countless multitude 
of men and women met from the counties of Tip- 
perary and Kilkenny, as well as from the Queen's 
County, and a portion of the King's, and paraded 
through the town of Roscrea, decorated with ribbons 
and other insignia, and trappings of green, to the real 
or pretended alarm of those opposed to the concession 
of Emancipation. This Eoscrea meeting before its 
separation, agreed to celebrate the following Sunday, 
which fell on the 28th September, by making a 
similar demonstration in Shinrone. From the pre- 
dominant colour worn by those so congregated, they 
were denominated " Green Boys," by which appella- 
tion they will be here referred to. 

Although the progress of such vast assemblages had 
been hitherto unaccompanied by even the most trifling 
violence, either to the persons or properties of political 
or religious opponents, nevertheless, the danger of 
permitting such immense multitudes of people to 
parade, without responsible leaders or lawful organiza- 
tion or control, and where, consequently, a single 
lawless act of violence, nay, even an irritating expres- 
sion used by an intemperate individual, might lead to 
the most alarming results; such danger at length 
appeared to the then existing Government to be of so 
serious a nature as to call upon the Executive to stop, 


and with a strong and uncompromising hand, too, all 
future proceedings of a similar character. 

It is well-known that Shinrone was, in the year 
1 828, a perfect hot-bed of rampant Orangeism, in which 
the vile fungi of party, of the most ignorant, bigotted, 
and sanguinary description, shot forth into maturity, 
with an exuberance unknown, perhaps, in any other 
part of Ireland. As most of the Shinrone Orangemen 
of that day are now dead, what is here stated will 
pass lightly over their graves. Instead of endeavour- 
ing to revive the political and religious acerbity of 
that time, let us leave it with those who are now gone 
to sleep that " sleep which knows no waking." Shin- 
rone as it then was, has been alluded to merely with 
a view to show that the few days which elapsed be- 
tween the meeting at Eoscrea and the day fixed on for 
the demonstration in Shinrone, were naturally spent 
by the more cautious and sober, in anxious anticipa- 
tions and conjectures as to the event of the intended 
progress through the metropolis of Clonlisk Barony. 

The very celebrity of Shinrone for superlative 
Orangeism the fanatic frenzy of its bigotry, added to 
its being a well-known arsenal of yeomanry and other 
arms and munitions of war as also a place where the 
Orange flag was not known, in the memory of the 
oldest person, to have ceased floating on the breeze 
each successive 1st and 12th of July, and anniversary 
of the so-called Popish Gunpowder Treason all these 
circumstances, as well as the language of defiance held 
out by the Shinronians, were so many magnets attracting 



thither the Green Boys, for the purpose of showing 
the people of Shinrone that march through their town 
they would, let the hazard be what it might. This 
spirit had spread its epidemic contagion amongst the 
peasantry far and wide. On the other hand, the 
townspeople supposed that their ancient character for 
exclusive loyalty, their oft- vaunted, but yet untried 
bravery, and long upheld banner of ascendency, would 
be sullied, were they to suffer the Roman Catholic 
peasantry to pass peaceably and unmolested through a 
stronghold so renowned as theirs. Accordingly, the 

<_J CJ / / 

inhabitants of Shinrone employed themselves during the 
few days allowed them, in rendering the place, as they 
supposed, impregnable. The doorways and lower 
windows of most of the houses were firmly barricaded 
to exclude the invaders. Sashes were removed from 
the upper windows so as to convert the latter into 
embrasures for the use of musketry and other fire- 
arms, and everything (save the employment of con- 
ciliation, tolerance, and moderation) which could tend 
to secure the citadel, was attempted, or accomplished. 
The yeomanry and other arms in the town were 
quickly cleaned up, and rendered serviceable. Addi- 
tional arms and auxiliaries were procured from all the 
neighbouring lodges, bullets were cast without num- 
ber, and many thousands of ball-cartridges were made. 
In such preparations as these the time was con- 
sumed by both parties, after the Eoscrea meeting, 
until the post arrived in Birr on the morning of the 
following Saturday, the 27th of September, when a 


large official despatch came from Dublin Castle to 
Lord Oxmantown, the late Earl of Eosse. The Duke 
of Wellington was at that time First Lord of the 
Treasury, and the Marquis of Anglesea was Lord 
Lieutenant of Ireland. The despatch in question con- 
tained one of those decided acts which formed so 
strong a trait in the character of His Grace of Wel- 
lington. It was shortly, and in substance, an order to 
Lord Oxmantown to take with him to Shinrone a 
competent force of military and police, on the 28th of 
September, the Sunday appointed for the procession of 
the Green Boys there, and to resist by force, and 
without any parley, this procession of countless 
thousands to be congregated from all the adjoining 
counties, and some of whom must have actually left 
their distant homes for Shinrone at the time the Castle 
letter reached Lord Oxmantown' s hands. 

In this state of circumstances, an extensive and 
sanguinary collision between the authorities and the 
populace seemed to be almost inevitable. Had such 
collision occurred, it is not possible to say what might 
have been the sad results. The constituted forces 
possibly would have been met and opposed by undis- 
ciplined numbers, and however unequal the conflict, 
and finally unavailing, countless human lives would cer- 
tainly have been sacrificed. The country would have be- 
come the theatre of civil strife, and the survivors of the 
defeated peasantry would, for succeeding years, have 
roamed outlaws over the island like the raparees of 
William's time, or the more recent deluded enthusiasts 


of 1798. Such was the dismal aspect of affairs, when 
Providence happily ordained a more fortunate issue. 
It so happened that almost immediately on the order 
to Lord Oxmantown having been resolved on in 
Dublin Castle, that circumstance became known to 
a Eoman Catholic gentleman, deservedly high in 
the opinion of the Government. This gentleman lost 
not a moment in endeavouring to avert the deep mis- 
fortunes to arise from a strict execution of the order, 
and a letter from him arrived in Birr by the same post 
which brought the Government Despatch in question. 
In that letter this gentleman stated that Government 
had issued its commands, as already mentioned, and 
he humanely suggested the propriety of some persons 
who might possess influence with the people, going 
forth immediately to stop the intended procession, 
and thereby prevent the melancholy consequences of 
the military and peasantry meeting in hostile contact. 
Compliance with this charitable suggestion was not 
to be effected either easily or safely. The Green 
Boys had already seen themselves in their numerical 
strength, and their minds were fixed on marching 
through Shinrone, for which purpose their fantastic 
green emblems and decorations were already prepared. 
The men had purchased green sashes and hat bands, 
and the women had just decked their caps and bonnets 
with the national colour, nor were green handkerchiefs 
wanting to cover their modest bosoms. With the 
Green Boys it was a darling enterprise to show the 
intolerants of Shinrone their multitudes and physical 


power, and hence it was no ordinary matter to turn 
them from their purpose. The peasantry from the 
central parts of the King's County were to march 
through Birr, and there be joined by the people of 
that town and surrounding parishes, who had pro- 
vided for the occasion suitable banners, and a band of 
music, with a high platform mounted on the under- 
carriage of a post-chaise, to bear their standard and 
musicians high above the crowd. The County Gal- 
way Green Boys were to move by Portumna, and 
uniting with their associates from the neighbourhood 
of Burrisokane, were to proceed to the main body 
before entering Shinrone. The people of the County 
Kilkenny, Queen's County, and north-eastern districts 
of Tipperary, were to meet the Roscrea men, while 
those from Cashel, Thurles, Burrisoleigh, and Toome- 
vara, were to advance from the mountain side, through 
the village of Cloughjordan. 

Such were the preparations for the pageant of the 
following day, on Saturday, when the peremptory 
mandate to resist the march by force, and without 
parley, came to hand. The population of several 
counties had firmly resolved on proceeding in proces- 
sion through Shinrone. Had that procession taken 
place it would, at least, have shown those who resided 
in that bigotted little town, how insignificant they 
were when compared with the multitudes their narrow 
policy sought to keep in thraldom. In such a state of 
things, where was to be found any person possessing 
nerve enough to attempt diverting from a favourite 


and settled practice of processions, already had through 
several other towns without molestation ? Again, 
supposing an individual or two forthcoming, of suffi- 
cient courage for the undertaking, it was a question if 
they would have activity and energy equal to counter- 
act the movement of such various and numerous 
bands of Green Boys and Green Girls, converging simul- 
taneously from so many districts, upon the Mecca of 
that pilgrimage to which heated fancy and more 
urgent sense of wrong were leading them. It was in 
this predicament that the late venerated and talented 
Eoman Catholic Bishop of Killaloe, the Eight Eev. 
Patrick Kennedy, who was then Yicar- General, and 
Parish Priest of Birr, and Mr. Thomas Lalor Cooke, 
also of Birr, the writer of this account of the occur- 
rence, consulted on the measures most likely to pre- 
vent the impending danger. There was not a moment 
to be lost " Deliberat Roma, perit Saguntum " was the 
motto. Time was pressing, and prolonged deliberation 
was out of the question. They speedily resolved that 
a meeting of the inhabitants of Birr should forthwith 
be called in the Eoman Catholic Chapel of that town. 
The decision was no sooner come to than the proposed 
meeting was convened, the circumstances laid before 
it, and, after some hesitation, those present pledged 
themselves not only not to go to Shinrone the follow- 
ing day, but to become a sort of special constables to 
intercept and arrest all others journeying to the wished- 
for place through Birr. Having thus happily begun 
their self-appointed mission, Dr. Kennedy and Mr, 


Cooke forthwith started together for Eoscrea, where 
they arrived late that evening. They immediately 
waited on the then worthy Priest of the Parish, the 
late lamented and respected Rev. Mr. O'Shaughnessy, 
who, with the late patriotic Stephen Egan, Esq., and 
some other influential gentlemen, after some sturdy 
expostulation, became convinced of the necessity of 
the measure in hand. 

The public bellman was sent through the town to 
call the inhabitants to the Chapel, which is now 
replaced by the beautiful new Roman Catholic Church 
of Roscrea. It was by this time dark, and the sacred 
edifice was dimly illuminated by candle-light. Both 
the Chapel and the space in front of it were densely 
thronged with men and women, anxious to learn for 
what purpose they were so unexpectedly brought to- 
gether. "When it was announced that the people were 
assembled, Dr. Kennedy and his associate, accompanied 
by the Parish Priest and other gentlemen, repaired to 
the Chapel, where their object was already whispered 
about. As they entered the portals of the house of 
God, the dark group of grim-visaged, gaunt, athletic 
men who stood around inquired aloud, and in an 
angry tone of voice, evidently with a view to the 
question being heard, " What brought them here? 
Why did they not stay at home and mind their own 
business, without troubling themselves about us?" 
Such a salutation was no very flattering omen from 
which to predict success. Nevertheless, Dr. Kennedy 
and Mr. Cooke proceeded with their business without 


dismay or delay. They had previously arranged be- 
tween themselves, that whenever they should fall in 
with any concourse of persons willing to hearken to 
their advice, Mr. Cooke should, in the first instance, 
address them, stating what and who they were ; that 
they came as friends, and the cause of their coming, 
with such other observations as he might think ap- 
propriate. After this beginning by Mr. Cooke, Dr. 
Kennedy was then to bear upon his hearers with the 
full force of his eloquence, and, exercising his influence 
as a clergyman, by means thereof, and of his unfailing 
flow of language, to divert them from their darling 
object the procession to Shinrone. 

In the course of Mr. Cooke' s address at Eoscrea, a 
feeble and decrepid old woman in one of the galleries 
cried out, as if the passage of Shinrone depended on 
her individual efforts, " And are we to be deterred by 
the paltry Orangemen of Shinrone ? " 

Mr. Cooke instantly replied that he contemplated 
no such thing, adding that when he remembered he 
was then speaking in the town of Eoscrea, whose 
unarmed and unprepared inhabitants had in days of 
yore routed and slain Olfin, a Danish general, and his 
4,000 followers, he could not think it possible its 
people were so degenerate as to be deterred by a 
handful of petty Orangemen in Shinrone. Although 
this timely allusion to the battle of SS. Peter and 
Paul, about the middle of the tenth century, silenced 
the troublesome old woman in the gallery, Dr. 
Kennedy afterwards felt it necessary to revert to the 


subject in the course of his powerful address, in order 
to complete that perfect good humour which is so 
requisite for an orator to hold his hearers in. By 
exciting in them a spirit of self-esteem, the Eoscrea 
people were rendered superior to the fear of censure, 
and finally pledged themselves, as those in Birr had 
previously done, to intercept and send home all that 
might be going to Shinrone by that way. This 
pledge they implicitly kept, and on the following 
morning, the dreaded Sunday the 28th of September, 
they arrested, amongst many others, the march of a 
1 party of upwards of 1,000 Green Boys mounted 
on horses, who had travelled all night from Galmoy, 
in the County Kilkenny. 

Dr. Kennedy and the companion of his undertaking 

having slept that night in Eoscrea, set out at break of 

day on Sunday morning to Dunkerrin, where they 

were received by the Eev. Mr. Nolan, P.P. This 

*>^rev. gentleman on being made acquainted with their 

object, undertook, with his curate, to answer for his 

4r parishes. Leaving Dunkerrin and Money gall to the 

Xfj^l care of the above clergymen, Dr. Kennedy and Mr. 

.ij Cooke proceeded, amongst other places, to the town 

Fjh of Clpughjordanj and from thence to a county parish 

L r y chapel situate at Grawnorish, in the County Tipperary. 

JP The dwelling-house of the then aged and worthy 

Parish Priest, the Eev. Mr. Dunne, since deceased, at 

that time adjoined this chapel. Dr. Kennedy and his 

fellow-traveller arrived just as the people were about 

to quit the house of God, after having assisted at the 


celebration of Mass. So intent was the large congre- 
gation there assembled on repairing to Shinrone, that 
both men and women, to the number of about 2,000, 
were already equipped in their green habiliments. It 
was even surmised that they were not altogether un- 
prepared for defence. Whatever might have been the 
cause of such conduct, the venerable Parish Priest 
who had watched over his flock there for years, 
and was respected by them as their fond pastor, 
actually declined to introduce the strangers to his 
congregation. Some attributed his refusal to fear, and he 
even gave the Vicar- General to understand that it was 
unsafe for anyone to attempt to dissuade the people 
from their intended journey. 

Notwithstanding this prudent but discouraging 
counsel, the Rev. Dr. Kennedy and Mr. Cooke, self- 
conscious that their coming hither was caused solely 
by a desire to do good, determined to try the effect of 
an address to the assembled multitude. They accord- 
ingly presented themselves in front of the altar to the 
densely crowded audience, and, as done by them in 
Eoscrea and other places, they expostulated with the 
assemblage. Fortunately their advice was received 
with attention and kindness in the same spirit with 
which it was offered. 

Those assembled, as well men as women, imme- 
diately divested themselves of those foolish trappings 
of party with which they had appeared decorated, even 
during the solemn celebration of Divine service. It is 
a fact worthy of especial notice, that the women here 


were the first to strip off their own darling green 
ribbons and handkerchiefs, and then they helped the 
men to follow their example. In some instances the 
women, with great good sense and remarkable self- 
devotion, forcibly tore the green emblems off their 
unwilling male friends in the chapel. It is unnecessary 
to add that each individual of the congregation left 
Grawnorish for his own home, bearing with him a 
commission to intercept all other Green Boys. 

We will now leave the Green Boys for a while, and 
see how matters were going on in Shinrone. It was 
after eleven o'clock on the portentous Sunday, when 
Dr. Kennedy and Mr. Cooke departed from Graw- 
norish, fully pleased with the result of their embassy 
in that quarter. By that hour the town of Shinrone 
appeared as if in a state of siege, and only waiting an 
expected coup de main of the enemy. Lord Oxman- 
town was there proudly powerful amid the panoply of 
war, at the head of a large body of police, horse and 
foot, and two full regiments of infantry of the line. 
Of one of these regiments which occupied the town, a 
large body entrenched itself in an empty brew-house 
that stood in a large yard enclosed by a high wall. 
This position commanded the bridge. The military 
were supported by a force of 200 or 300 infantry 
police, and a large force of police cavalry. Every 
house was a distinct fortification, the doors being, as 
already mentioned, blocked up, and the window sashes 
removed, while the Orange Chilians stood to their 
guns within, each being armed to the teeth. The old 


castle on the elevation at the end of the town, called 
Cloughmoyle, was also occupied by the military, while 
the national red ensign floated conspicuously in the 
breeze from a lofty flag-staff on its summit. This flag 
was visible to the country for miles around. 

An Orange flag bearing insulting party inscriptions 
was hoisted in the town, but Lord Oxmantown, under 
the cool and excellent advice of his worthy uncle, the 
late Colonel Lloyd, who always kept the Shinrone 
Orangemen down, insisted on its being struck, declar- 
ing that if it was not immediately lowered he would 
withdraw the troops, and leave the inhabitants to 
whatever fate awaited them. The second regiment of 
military was formed at a convenient distance, on an 
eminence overlooking Sharavogue Bridge, with a view 
to cover, if necessary, the retreat towards Birr of the 
troops more immediately occupying the threatened 
town, or to advance to their support, as occasion 
might require. 

While affairs were in the state just described, in the 
beleagured fortress, Dr. Kennedy and his associate, 
leaving the scene of their success at Grawnorish, 
posted at a rapid rate towards Shinrone, for the pur- 
pose of intercepting a party of about 2,500 Green 
Boys which they learned had already advanced 
through bye-roads thither. This division of Green 
Boys they fortunately fell in with and headed, at a 
cross road within a quarter of a mile from Shinrone. 
The chaise in which Dr. Kennedy and his companion 
travelled, they caused to be at once drawn across the 


road, so as to in part obstruct the passage of the 
Green Boys, and having mounted the driver's rickety 
seat, they from that rostrum harrangued one of the 
most obstinate and intractable audiences that ever 
speakers had to address. The cause of such obstinacy 
was three-fold. In the first place, this advanced divi- 
sion of Green Boys having outstripped all the rest, 
had already marched almost into the very town they 
had vowed to visit. They considered themselves a 
self-elected forlorn hope, and, as was rumoured, were 
not wholly unprepared for such an exploit, or to 
return with interest any assault that might be made 
upon them in their passage. Such preparations for 
self-defence rendered those composing this advanced 
division the more confident. It therefore was the 
more difficult, as well as dangerous, for strangers to 
try to turn them, against their inclination, from an 
object they had all but sworn to accomplish, and 
which seemed to be already within their reach. When 
danger is here alluded to, the reader will bear in 
mind that events are being related which happened in 
1828, a year which long preceded the hallowed mis- 
sion of the Apostle of Temperance, and when numbers 
of intoxicated, unruly, and violent persons were found 
in every large assemblage of the peasantry. Secondly, 
these Green Boys, and those fair enthusiasts who 
accompanied them, having paraded so far in their 
fantastic dresses, it was considered by them to be 
disgraceful to retire, as it were in the face of the 
enemy. Thirdly, and principally, the people mistook 


the national red ensign which floated from Shinrone 
Castle for the hated Orange flag, and it appeared to 
be flying there as if to defy them to a more near ap- 
proach. Some peaceable, sober, and influential 
farmers who happened to be near the head of the 
Green Boy column, however, happily attended to the 
friendly admonitions delivered from the chaise, and 
ultimately the whole party, with the exception of some 
few stragglers, retired the same road by which they 
had advanced. It would be exceedingly difficult at 

< ' V 

this distance of time to describe the extraordinary 
dresses adopted by this last-mentioned division of Green 
Boys. The hats of many of the men had goose quills 
stuck in rows standing upright from under the hat- 
band. These quills communicated to the wearers the 
appearance of wild Indians. Each individual was 
arrayed in the most absurd kind of finery he could 
procure, but all had more or less green about them. 

The interposition of Providence was more distinctly 
perceptible here than elsewhere on this memorable 
day, in preventing a collision which, if begun, must, 
as already mentioned, have ended in the effusion of 
much blood, and the loss of many valuable lives. 
Had not Dr. Kennedy and his assistant fortunately 
arrived at the cross-road before the Green Boy column 
reached it, the procession would have advanced un- 
warned and heedless until it entered the town, and 
was there encountered by the organized military and 
the Orangemen. The remainder of the 28th of Sep- 
tember 1828, passed off without the occurrence of 


anything worthy of remark, save an indescribable 
scene of confusion which took place in Shinrone 
Chapel while the people were at Mass. By some 
accident, a cry was raised in the chapel that the 
Orangemen were coming to slaughter those assembled 
there at prayers. Immediately each person sought to 
escape from the chapel as he best could. Many were 
trampled under foot, and a great number forced their 
way out through the windows, bearing sashes, glass, 
and all before them. It was some time before tran- 
quillity was restored. 

The late Laurence, Earl of Rosse, was often heard 
to state afterwards, that he had been informed by no 
less an authority than the Duke of Wellington himself, 
that the successful result of the mission, of which only 
a faint outline is here given, was with his Grace an 
eminently accelerating cause for conceding the Act 
for Catholic Emancipation, which followed soon after. 
Few persons now, after such a lapse of time, can justly 
appreciate the extent of danger and difficulty, Dr. 
Kennedy and Mr. Cooke encountered on that trying 
occasion. Fewer still, save those who are intimately 
acquainted with the circumstances, can value at a just 
rate the blessings then conferred upon society by the 
quiet dispersion of the hundred thousands who were 
moving from all quarters towards Shinrone. How 
many a family was indebted to the turn given to the 
events of that day, for the life of a father, a brother, a 
sister, or other dear relative ! Much, truly, does this 
country owe to Providence on this occasion for having 


thus averted civil strife and bloodshed ; and for having 
given instead, a new and irresistible impulse to the 
triumphant car of civil liberty, hurrying it on to the 
goal, by showing the English Government what a 
single Eoman Catholic clergyman, aided by one 
humble layman, could do with so many thousands of 
then proscribed Irishmen. 

The anniversary of the 28th of September 1828, 
was for a long time celebrated in Shinrone in token of 
the providential deliverance of the town on that day. 
Had each Green Boy but carried away a single stone, 
scarcely a vestige of the devoted town would have 
remained, so great were the numbers of those about to 
visit it. 

It is now more than forty years since the Green 
Boys marched on Shinrone, and nearly all the Green 
Boys and Orangemen then so earnestly engaged, have 
passed away. Cannot Irishmen, even now, see the 
folly of such proceedings, which, in this instance, was 
so near leading to bloodshed, devastation, and ruin? 
Must the Green flag on one side, and the Orange on 
the other, be still and for ever unfurled in opposition, 
by the unhappy sons of Ireland, without knowing for 
what ; and can there be found, even now, no colour or 
hue which, blending the Orange and Green, would 
form a standard under which all Irishmen could rally 
for the good of their common, but neglected and 
deserted country ? 




BEING now done with the Orangemen of Shinrone, and 
the Green Boys who marched in 1828 upon that then 
bigotted little town, we will take a glance at what 
was going on in the neighbourhood some thirteen 
or fourteen centuries before either Orangeman or 
Green Boy was heard of. 

At Kilcommon, already mentioned in connexion 
with Shinrone, there are about two miles from Shin- 
rone, the remains of an ancient monastery as to which 
the Monasticon Hibernic&iinfoYms us that St. Cumene 
or Cuimin, sumamed u the white," the son of Ernan, 
a nobleman of Tirconnel, received his education in the 
Abbey of Hy, and founded a church here. Dr. 
Lanigan supposes that St. Cuimin was educated at 
Burrow Monastery, which is also in the King's 
County. At all events, he either founded or governed 
a monastery within the district of Eoscrea Abbey. 
The place was called Disert Chuimin, disert being the 
Irish for a lonely, deserted spot, such as the earl)* 
Irish saints would like to select. The name was also 



applied to the churches erected in such places. St. 
Cuimin is reported to have spoken most learnedly in 
the famous Synod of Leighlin^on the subject of the pro- 
per" time for the celebration of Easter, and he after- 
wards wrote a very learned epistle in defence of the 
Eoman time for the Paschal. It has been properly 
remarked that this epistle proves that St. Cuimin had 
an extraordinary degree of learning of various kinds, 
and shows how well stocked with books Irish libraries 
were in the seventh century, when he wrote. In 
reference to Kilcommon, his place of abode, St. 
Cuimin says, " Hsec dixi non ut vos impugnarem, sed 
ut me ut nycticoracem in domicilio lactitantem de- 
fenderem ; " which is, "I said these things not for the 
purpose of arguing with you, but to defend myself as 
an owl constantly hiding in, the place of my abode.'' 
These words were quite in place when applied to Kil- 
common, in those days when it merited the appellation 
disert, a lonely place. Archdall says that St. Cuimin 
was afterwards abbot at Hy, and that he died the 24th 
of February, in the year 668 ; but Dr. Lanigan asserts 
that he never was abbot of Hy, and says that St. 
Cuimin of Ej.lcom.mon has been strangely confounded 
with Cumineous albus, or "the white." The last 
mentioned -writer thinks that Cuimin of Kilcommon is 
the person surnamed Facia, or the long, admitted to 
have been celebrated for his learning, and who died in 
November or December, in the year 662. The Four 
Masters and the Annals of Ulster, as likewise Colgau, 
have his death at this year. 


At the year 1162, the Four Masters state that the 
relics " of Cummaine Fada were removed from the 
earth by the clergy of Brenainn " (Clonfert) " and they 
were enclosed in a protecting shrine." It appears 
from this that the relics of St. Cuimin were deemed 
worthy of being exhumed, and placed in a shrine for 
better preservation, five hundred years after his death. 
It is said that St. Cuimin had a brother named Beccan, a 
recluse, who, as Colgan says, was likewise called Euim, 
or Euiminn, pronounced as if Eouen. Possibly lie 
might have had a cell at the neighbouring townland 
of Shinrone, and that it is to him Shinrone is indebted 
for a name. 

In a rock, near Rutland, in the neighbourhood of 
Ivilcommon, are some marks like impressions from 
human knees and arms. These, at least some years 
ago, were held in high veneration as being the marks 
of St. Cuimin' s devotional prostrations the devout 
saint having, by continual prayer, worn traces in the 
solid limestone. Strange as such a notion may appear, 
the fact was possible. The adage says, the constant 
drop will hollow a stone, and this is verified in the 
Abbey of Holy Cross, where the Braon Comhsanadh, 
or Constant drop, by continually falling from the 
groined arch overhead, has worn a hole more than an 
inch deep, in the corner of a marble tomb-stone. But 
the marks in St. Cuimin's rock are also accounted for in 
another manner, in the legendary lore of Ivilcommon. 
The story, which the reader may believe or not, as he 
thinks proper, is as follows : Some difference having 


arisen in olden times between St. Cuimin of Kilcom- 
mon, and St. Cronan of Koscrea, respecting the 
boundaries of their respective ecclesiastical districts, 
it was agreed between them that on a certain morning 
each should set out from his own monastery, and walk 
to meet the other. The boundary was to be settled 
wherever they met that morning. St. Cronan, who, it 
appears, was a cunning old man, took care on the ap- 
pointed day to rise very early, and he arrived at the 
door of Kilcommon church just as the unsuspecting 
and easy St. Cuimin was sprinkling the holy water, 
after celebrating Mass. Hearing that St. Cronan was 
outside, St. Cuimin went forth to salute him, and per- 
chance in the hospitable spirit of those days, to invite 
him in to breakfast. No sooner had they met, than St. 
Cronan said, " This spot is the boundary of our juris- 
diction." St. Cuimin protested against what he con- 
sidered the unfair advantage taken of him, and begged 
that at all events his district might be allowed to ex- 
tend as far from the church door where he then stood, 
as he could throw the asperges in his hand to. 
" Agreed," said St. Cronan. "Whereupon St. Cuimin 
flung the asperges with superhuman force. No arrow 
from the bow of Eobin Hood or Little John, ever took 
such a flight. Off it went through the air until it 
dropped near the place now called Anneville, about 
three miles distant, and there the boundary was ac- 
cordingly established. St. Cronan being greatly 
vexed at this event, in his anger pursued St. Cuimin, 
who, while endeavouring to escape, suddenly flung 

KllCOMMON. 213 

himself down upon the rock near Rutland, with such 
force, that to this day it bears the impression of his 
hands and knees, as already described. 

There are three very remarkable elm trees called 
" Cuimin's trees," still growing around and close to 
this rock. It is said they were planted many years 
ago by the owner of the property, in place of three 
yew trees of unknown age, but straight as an arrow, 
which had previously grown in the same spot, and 
were supposed to have been planted by the Saint him- 
self. These last mentioned trees, however, were, as 
was also said, unfortunately cut down, as the result of 
a wager between the owner of the place and a neigh- 
bouring gentleman. An ancient bell, said to have 
been the bell of St. Cuimin, was preserved in the 
parish up to thirty or forty years ago. There was a 
tradition to the effect that it had been found in a well 
close to the ruins of Kilcommon church. 

On the outside of Kilcommon church-yard, there 
stood heretofore the dwelling-house in which the cele- 
brated Father Brooks lived. He was Parish Priest 
here in the troubled times of 1798, and his chapel 
stood hard by. But the house of God and its Priest 
both fell under the displeasure of those in power at 
that time. The chapel was set on fire and consumed, 
and Father Brooks was deemed unfit to abide longer 
in Leinster, and it was well for himself he was suffered 
to live longer anywhere. Ho was sentenced to be 
transported into Connaught, and that sentence was 
forthwith executed by putting him over the ferry 

214 BBtJtSNA. 

which then plied where Portumna bridge now stands. 
No sooner was the arrival of Father Brooks made 
known in Connaught, than the gentlefolks of that 
province felt their pride touched, and their loyalty 
called in question. Although the Galway people were 
always, even from the days of King Guaire, proverbial 
for hospitality, they did not relish the company of the 
clerical exile. Tt reminded them of the old plantation, 
when Connaught was made the receptacle for those 
turned out elsewhere it made their country a penal 
settlement and, without much overstraining of the 
picture, they fancied they saw themselves degraded 
into bushrangers. They accordingly marched Father 
Brooks back again to Kilcommon, and it is said that 
had they met with those who had transported him, 
they would have inflicted summary chastisement for 
their presumption. 

The village called Brusna is not far from Shinrone, 
and is about six miles from Birr. Brusna is a very 
ancient place, and in Colgan's Ada Sanctorum, is 
denominated Craibheach, which means a bundle of dry 
sticks or brushwood, still known as "a brusna," in 
parts of the country. The Tripartite has it, u locaqua 
Brosnachea appellatur '." The river called Little 
Brusna seems to derive its name from passing by this 
place. We learn from Mr. Archdall, and the 
authorities he refers to, that " Croebheach," near the 
river " Brusnach," was founded by St. Patrick, who 
placed there his disciple, St. Daluan. Archdall mistakes, 
however, in placing Croebheach in the County Kerry, 

BRUSNA. 215 

instead of in the King's County, which error is the 
more curious us he refers to the Ada Sanctorum, in 
which Colgan expressly states, that Croebheach was 
near Brusna, a river of eastern- Munster. Even Arch- 
dall himself says it was near this river, whereas there 
was no such river in Kerry, which was in south 
Munster, while Ormond was in east Munster. 

Colgan also informs us that St. Trian was bishop 
and abbot here, about the year 450, and that he enter- 
tained St. Patrick on his way from Tirdaglas and 
Lothra (now Tcrryglass and Lorha), to Hyfailc. It is 
recorded that when St. Patrick was on some occasion 
travelling through what is now part of the King's 
County, Odran, his charioteer, learned that a plot 
had been formed by a certain chief to kill the Saint, as 
he was driving in his chariot along the road. Odran, 
upon this, induced the Saint to change places with 
him, and thus the faithful servant met the death 
intended for his master. It does not clearly appear, 
whether or not this occurred on the occasion of this 
visit of St. Patrick to Brusna, but Odran thus killed, 
is said to have been the first, if not the only martyr, 
during the conversion of Ireland by St. Patrick. 

The village of Brusna and neighbourhood, as well 
as Shinrone, are the property of John Lloyd, D.L., 
whose fine old family mansion and extensive demesne 
at Glostcr, are not far from Brusna. The family of 
Lloyd is descended from Sir Hardress "Waller, one of 
whose daughters was married to Sir William Petty, 
ancestor of the Marquis of Lansdown, John Lloyd, 


Esq., the grandfather, and his son the late Colonel 
Hardress Lloyd, father of the present Mr. Lloyd, each 
represented the King's County in several Parliaments. 
The late Colonel Hardress Lloyd, whose sister was 
married to the late Laurence, Earl of Eosse, is referred 
to more than once in the course of this work. 

It has been mentioned (p. 34) that the chief castles 
in Ely 0' Carroll were Limwaddon or Lemivanane, 
now Leap Castle, Birr, Clonlisk, Dunkerrin now 
Franckfort, Emil, and Cullenwaine. Of these Birr 
Castle has been already referred to. 

The castle in modern times called Leap Castle, is 
situate between Eoscrea and Kinnitty, and about five 
miles south-east of Birr. This was one of the chief 
strongholds of the O'Carrolls, and it is almost unneces- 
sary to say it is in the ancient territory of Ely 0' Car- 
roll. The old name of this interesting place was 
Leim-ui-bhanam, that is, the Leap of O'Banan, and it 
is also called Lemyvanane in old documents. 

The Four Masters tell us that in the year, 1514, the 
Earl of Kildare marched to Leim-ui-Bhanain, " but, as 
seldom happened to him, he did not succeed in either 
destroying or taking it, and he accordingly returned 
home to collect more forces, but was seized with ill- 
ness of which he died." The same writers record that 
in 1516, "the castle of the town of O'Carroll, .<?., 
Leim-ui-Bhanain," was taken by the Earl of Kildare, 
Gerald, the son of Gerald, after his father had failed in 
taking it; and they add, that it "was doubtful if 
there was in that time a castle better fortified and 


defended than that, until it was demolished on its 

Again, at the year 1557, the Four Masters state 
that the Lord Justice, the Earl of Sussex, having come 
on an expedition into Fearcall, proceeded from thence 
to Ely, and took Leim-ui-Bhanain, " and it was 
the goodness pf his horse that enabled 0' Carroll to 
escape from him." However, it appears that later in 
the same year, " O'Carroll, i.e., William Odhar, having 
got an advantage, took Caislan-an-Leime from the 
English." This name signifies "the Castle of the 

We find this place called Lemyvanane in an inquisi- 
tion held there the 28th of December 1568, and from 
the Deed of Surrender of Ely O'Carroll by " Sir 
William O'Kerroll," dated in 1576, and a copy of 
which is given in the Appendix (No. 1), it appears 
that then, at least, Leap Castle was the chief strong- 
hold of the O'Carrolls, for in that document, Sir 
William is described as of " Lemyvanan." It is also 
remarkable, that amongst the thirty-five " freeholders " 
who joined Sir William in that surrender, there appears 
the name of William O'Banane, from some of whose 
ancestors the castle most probably acquired its ancient 
name. There was also an Abbot of Eoscrea named 
O'Banan, who died in 1128. The Atlas by Mercator, 
published in 1623, has Leap marked on it as "Lema- 
vadon," and most probably it would not have been 
noticed on this map at all, were it not a place of 
importance at the time. 


Leap Castle is now the seat of Mr. Darby, and is 

still in a state of fine preservation, scarcely to be 

surpassed by any baronial residence in Ireland. It is 

a great mistake, therefore, to have " the ruins " of 

Leap Castle, referred to in a late very useful work by 

a learned, and generally most accurate, writer. The 

view from the back of the castle is exceedingly fine. 

The Darby family hold the estate by a rather unusual 

title. A member of that family having married a 

daughter of 0' Carroll, part of the Leap estate was 

given him as a marriage-portion with his wife ; and 

afterwards, on the plantation of Ely 0' Carroll, in the 

reign of James I., the part so granted to Darby, who 

was a Protestant, was not seized . by the Crown as 

forfeited. On the other hand, the greater portion of 

the estate, which then still remained in the possession 

of its Irish proprietor, was confiscated, nominally for 

the King's use ; but having been afterwards granted 

by Charles II. to John Holland, Mr. Darby of that 

period purchased it from Holland. Thus, part of the 

Leap property is still held by virtue of the original 

Irish title, traceable to a period long antecedent to 

Strongbow's invasion the remainder having been 

acquired by the purchase of the comparatively modern 

grant from the Crown of England. 

The entire estate, as well forfeited as unforfeited, 
having thus become vested, by marriage or purchase, 
in the same person, and thus continuing to the pre- 
sent day through the hands of his descendants, the 
boundary of what is held by Irish title has long ceased 


to be distinguished, although the particulars of the 
title are well known in the family. 

The Darby family are of English extraction. Arch- 
deacon Darby, one of the family, built the Divinity 
School at the University of Oxford, in the reign of 
Henry VII., but the family trace their pedigree to a 
much earlier period. The Leap branch of the family 
arc descended from Sir William Darby of Gadsby 
Hall, Lincolnshire, and settled in Ireland at a very 
early date. There was heretofore in Aghancon church- 
yard not far from Leap Castle, and close to the walls 
of the church the tomb of one of the family, having 
an inscription of some historic importance, dated in 
1604. A very curious silver seal, with the present 
arms of the family, was found at the same place. 
These arms were granted in 1588, and there is on the 
seal the Knight banneret's helmet, to which it seems 
the Darby family were entitled by grant. This seal 
is in the possession of the Kev. C. Darby of Kells 
Priory, Kilkenny, brother to Mr. Darby of Leap 
Castle. In the wars of Charles L, the family appear 
to have remained faithful to the King against the 
Parliament, and the representative of the Leap family 
at the time known as " the wild captain," and who 
was son to him whose tomb has been referred to 
valiantly resisted Cromwell's forces. It is said that 
having been at length taken prisoner, " the wild 
captain" was confined in the old gaol of Birr, but 
his legs having mortified from the cruelty of his con- 
finement, he was pardoned by Cromwell, and on his 


death in 1648, lie was buried in Aghancon church-yard. 
The pardon by Cromwell was still at Leap Castle some 
time since. When Aghancon Church was being built 
in 1786, Jonathan Darby, Esq., then of Leap, contri- 
buted a great part of the funds required for its 

It has been already stated in the portion of this 
work relating to Birr (p. 74), that Mr. Jonathan Darby 
of Leap, was tried with Sir Laurence Parsons, and 
convicted of high treason, at Philipstown, in March 
1689, and that they were several times reprieved. 
One of these reprieves, dated 22nd of May 1689, and 
signed " Melford," was in the possession of the present 
Mr. Darby of Leap. "When the Volunteer corps were 
being raised in Ireland towards the end of the last 
century, a corps called " the Leap Independents," 
was formed at Leap. This corps was associated on 
the 17th of March 1780, the uniform was blue faced 
blue, edged white, and it was under the command of 
Colonel Jonathan Darby. The late Admiral Sir Henry 
Darby who gallantly commanded the Bellerophon 
ship of war at the battle of the Nile, in August 1798, 
and his brother, General Darby, were uncles to the 
present owner of Leap Castle. It is well known that 
the gallant Admiral, then Captain Darby, on this 
memorable occasion engaged with his ship, the 
Bellerophon, the huge " Orient," the flagship of the 
French Admiral, which carried 120 guns, and of 
which the superiority of force as regarded the 
Bellerophon, was more than seven to three. A full 


account of this memorable battle, and the part Cap- 
tain Darby and his ship took in it, will be found in 
most works treating on the naval affairs of the period, 
and it may be more interesting to the reader to give 
here the following extract from the modest account of 
the transaction as entered by the gallant Captain him- 
self in pencil in his diary, on board the Bellerophon, 
on this eventful day. Mr. Darby of Leap Castle still 
has this diary. 

" Aug*- 1, 1798. a quarter before sunset the action 
began, about 20 minutes before 6 we came to an 
anchor and began firing abreast of * L' Orient.' ab* 
9 cut the cables. about 10 the { L'Orient ' blew up, 
49 killed, 148 wounded. Aug*- 2nd ab* 4 A.JI. came 
to anchor again with stream cable bent to the small 
Bow anchor, both the sheet and the small Bower 
Cables being cut away in the action found we had 
taken, burnt and destroyed 11 sail of the line and 2 

The castle heretofore commonly called Clonlisk 
Castle, was also one of the principal strongholds of the 
O'Carrolls, toparchs of Ely. The old name appears to 
have been Clonlis, the meaning of which would be, the 
field or meadow of the fort. The site of this castle 
for the site is all that now remains is about two 
miles from Shinrone, and Clonlisk House now occupies 
almost the very spot where formerly stood the ancient 
castle of Clonlisk. Even the site of Clonlisk castle is 
a historic place, however, and, amongst the rest, tho 
Four Masters record that in 1-541, O'Carroll, " that is 


Ferganainm, the son of Mulroona, was treacherously 
killed, although blind, by Teige, the son of Donagh, 
son of John 0' Carroll, his kinsman, and by the son of 
O'Molloy, i.e., John, son of Donagh Caoch, in the 
castle of Clonlis." The same writers add that although 
0' Carroll was an old man, he performed such feats of 
arms, and gave such assistance against his slayers, as 
resounded to his fame and renown, and that twelve of 
his people were slain along with him. The Fer- 
ganainm 0' Carroll thus slain in 1541, at Clonlisk 
Castle, was married to a daughter of the Earl of Kil- 
dare, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, and is frequently 
referred to in the early part of this work. 

It appears from records of the proceedings, that in 
consequence of information received relative to John 
0' Carroll, then of Clonlisk, the Lords Justices and 
Council directed their warrant, dated 30th November 
1639, to Sir "William Parsons of Birr, and Captain 
"William Paisley, Provost-Marshall of Munster, re- 
quiring them to arrest 0' Carroll, and search his 
house, &c. They proceeded to Clonlisk, but 0' Carroll 
was not to be found there, being, as they were 
informed, in Dublin. It seems, however, from the 
examinations taken, that they then discovered muskets 
and ten dozen of pikes at Clonlisk, and they also 
learned that 0' Carroll had employed a smith at Ty one 
in Ormond, to make pikes. It likewise appeared there 
was a room in the house at Clonlisk called, " the 
Chamber Arrigett," which means, the coin or money 
chamber. This chamber was said to have been used 


in former times by coiners, and the entrance to it was 
like the funnel of a chimney, and required a ladder to 
get in. The stairs into the castle, as it then appeared, 
was likewise stopped up for greater security. 

Another of 0' Carroll's chief castles was at Dun- 
kerrin, towards the southern part of the King's 
County. This place is also in the barony of Clon- 
lisk. The name Dunkerrin must be a 'very old one, 
as it 'seems probable that names in which the Irish 
word dun, a fort or fortress, forms part, originated 
scarcely later than the first century. The writer can 
only speculate as to the full meaning of the name 
Dunkerrin, but it may come from dun, a fortress, and 
Keeran, which represents the Irish for a mountain 
ash, a tree which may have flourished there. Dun- 
kerrin Castle is now the seat of James Franck Eolles- 
ton, D.L., and goes by the more modern name of 
Franckfort Castle, the castle and neighbourhood hav- 
ing acquired the name from Thomas Francks, Esq., 
who, in January 1666, obtained a grant of the lands 
of Coologe and Castleroan, with part of Clonomoghan 
and Clashagad. The property passed in 1740 to 
Francis Eolleston, Esq., of Tomlough, in the County 
Tipperary, on his marriage. He was father of Colonel 
Eolleston, who presided at the meeting of delegates 
from Volunteer corps, held at Birr in September 1781, 
as already mentioned, and was grandfather of the 
present Mr. Eolleston. Franckfort Castle is one of 
the few old baronial residences in Ireland still inhabi- 
table, and it is kept in very creditable style and 


preservation. The monumental slab that marks the 
resting-place of John 0' Carroll, who lived at Cullen- 
waine in the latter part of the seventeenth century, is 
still to be seen in the burial-ground at Dunkerrin. 
It is inscribed, " Dominus Anthonius 0' Carroll, hunc 
lapidem hie apponi curavit super corpus patris sui 
Johannis 0' Carroll de Cullonvane qui obiit anno doni 
1681, die 12 Martis. Kequiescat anima ejus in pace. 
Amen." That is, "the Lord Anthony O'Carroll had 
this stone placed here over the body of his father, 
John O'Carroll of Cullenwaine, who died on the 12th 
of March in the year of our Lord 1681. May his 
soul rest in peace. Amen." It appears to have been 
this Anthony 0' Carroll who was seized of Emill now 
spelled Emmell in the middle of the seventeenth 
century. An inquisition taken at Killigh, on the 
31st of May 1664, found that he was then lately pro- 
prietor of the town and lands of " Emill," in the parish 
of " Dunkerryn," and that the premises had been 
allotted to Captain John Eoss by the late usurped 
authority, and were then in his possession. This in- 
quisition contains a doleful record of nearly the 
entire O'Carroll family, who were stripped of their 
possessions by Cromwell's Government. Amongst 
those named in the inquisition are Donat Carroll, 
Anthony Carroll, Thady Carroll, John and Thady 
Carroll, John and William Carroll, and John Carroll. 
The ruins of the Castles of Cullenwaine and Emill, other 
strongholds of the O'Carrolls, are not very far from 
Dunkerrin. Mr. Joyce says that Cullenwaine means 


"the corner of the O'Duanes," and certainly the place 
is very near the southern " corner" or extremity of 
the ancient district which was afterwards included in 
the King's County. There are still the remains of 
many other castles, besides those mentioned, in the 
ancient territory of Ely 0' Carroll, as Ballybritt, For- 
tal, &c., &c. Most of them, however, are of lesser 
importance, and it would be almost impossible to treat 
on each in a work like this. 



FEARCALL. the territory of O'Maolmuaidh, O'Mulloy, 
or O'Molloy, was part of the ancient kingdom of 
Meath, and comprised the modern baronies of Eglish 
and Ballyboy, with part of Ballycowen, in the King's 
County. A portion of ancient Fearcall, therefore, 
came close to the town of Birr, on the east side, in the 
same way as does the barony of Eglish at present. 
The name Fearcall is said to be derived from Feara 
Ceattj which signifies, " men of the churches," and 
this ancient district is said to have been so called 
from the great number of religious establishments in 
it. The castles, forts, and strongholds were also very 
numerous in Fearcall, and it was particularly remark- 
able for its extensive forest known as the " Great 
Wood of Fearcall " which covered much of the eastern 
portion, and of which traces yet remain. 

O'Molloy, the ruler of this territory, was sometimes 


designated king, at other times prince, and frequently 
by the English chief, of his sept or people. This 
family were of the race of the southern Hy Nialls, or 
Clan Column, the ancient kings of Meath, and as 
princes of Fearcall, they were very powerful, and were 
frequently alluded to in the ancient annals of the 
country. The rulers of Fearcall do not appear, how- 
ever, to have always taken the same side between the 
English and the Irish, in the various contests in which 
they were engaged, and during which the people and 
territory of Fearcall suffered much. Thus, at one 
time we find O'Molloy doing battle against the English 
invader, while on other occasions, he is seen to receive 
pecuniary pensions in payment of his fealty to the 
Crown of England. Again, we find this chieftain a 
convert to the religion of the State, and at another 
time he appears professing the ancient faith of his 
country. When reduced to subjection to English rule, 
in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the princes of Fear- 
call were appointed royal standard-bearers of Leinster. 
This office they continued tp hold for a considerable 
time, having as arms in right of it, a knight in armour 
mounted on a charger, and bearing in his hand the 
British standard, with the arms of O'Molloy on his 
shield. In the account of Lord Deputy Eussell's 
progress in Ulster in 1595, Cox says that O'Molloy 
of the King's County, carried the English standard on 
one day, and O'Hanlon of Armagh, bore it on the 

O'Molloy, prince of Fearcall, is thus alluded to by 


O'Dugan, as one of the princes of ancient Meath, in 
the twelfth century : 

" The prince of Fearcall of the ancient swords 
Is O'Molloy of the free-born name ; 
Full power was granted to him, 
And he held his own country uncontrolled." 

It has been stated that the O'Molloys are frequently 
mentioned in the annals of the country at an early 
date. Let us give a few examples : Thus, the Four 
Masters tell us that in 1175, Giolla Coluim O'Maol- 
muaidh (O'Molloy), lord of " Ferkale," was treacher- 
ously slain by Koderick, son of Conor MacCoghlan. 
Again, we learn that in 1382, Fergal Eoe, the son of 
MacGeoghegan, chief of Kinel Fiacha, was treacher- 
ously slain by the people of Fearcall, and that Fergal 
O'Mulloy, and the son of Theobald, "were the persons 
who attacked him, and Myler Maintin was he who 
struck him." Peregrine O'Molloy, " lord of Fearcall," 
died in 1388 ; Hugh O'Molloy, also " lord of Fearcall," 
died in 1400 ; and in the year 1410, Torlogh and 
Teige, " the sons of O'Molloy," were slain by the 
people of Glenmalire. The Four Masters also record 
that in 1454, a dispute for the chieftaincy arose be- 
tween two of the O'Molloys, the result being that 
Theobald O'Molloy, and the grandson of Cosnavach 
O'Molloy, were each appointed chiefs "in opposition 
to each other." It appears, however, that this state 
of things did not last very long, for we further learn, 
that in 1461, " Theobald O'Molloy, lord of the half 
of Fearcall, was killed by O'Molloy of the "Wood." In 


1533, the lord of Fear call was treacherously slain on 
the plain of Lynally by his brother Peregrine, and his 
nephew Art, and his brother Cahir " was nominated 
the O'Molloy." Donald, the son of Theobald O'Molloy, 
was slain in the year 1582, and "his death was the 
less lamented on account of his having endeavoured to 
supplant and expel his father, in order that he might 
himself assume his place." In 1585, Conall O'Molloy, 
lord of Fercall attended Queen Elizabeth's Parliament 
in Dublin ; and on his death, in 1599, his son Calvach 
assumed his place "by the power of the Queen." 
There were, however, " gentlemen of his lineage who 
objected to and opposed him, according to the law of 
the Irish concerning that title." 

Although at times in favour with the English, 
O'Molloy also appears to have occasionally joined his 
Irish neighbours in opposing them. Thus, during the 
Irish wars of Queen Elizabeth, O'Molloy of Fearcall 
at least once united with the 0' Conors, O'Dunnes, 
and MacCoghlans in raising forces against the 
Queen. As Ireland was continually devastated by 
these wars for nearly thirty years, up to the year 
1602, there was ample time and opportunity for those 
inclined, to take different sides in the contest. History 
shows, however, that whichever side their ruler for 
the time espoused, and whether they were invaded by 
the English Lord Deputy, as in 1537 (p. 26), and at 
other times, including the year 1580 (p. 32), or by the 
Irish, like Hugh O'Neill, in the year 1600 (p. 160), 
the people of Fearcall suffered severely during the 


troubles of their country. It has been likewise seen 
from the portion of this work relating to Birr, that 
notwithstanding what they had suffered, the O'Molloys 
of Fearcall continued up to a comparatively late 
period, to resist the settlement at Birr of the Parsons 
family and their supporters. 

Besides Drumcullen (p. 154), and Killyon (p. 178), 
which, as already stated, were in Fearcall, there were 
several other celebrated abbeys and monasteries in that 
ancient district, including Eglish, and Eathlibthen, 
now called Ealyon. There was also a castle at Eglish, 
which is called Caislean-na-Hegailse by the Four 
Masters, at the year 1532 (p. 25). Ealyon Abbey is 
said to have been founded by St. Illand about the year 
540, and, according to Mr. Archdall, a statue of the 
Saint was to be seen there in his time. 

The chief burial place of the O'Molloys, however, 
appears to have been at Kilcormuck, now the town 
called Frankford, nearly in the centre of ancient Fear- 
call, and about nine miles from Birr. Kilcormuck 
was probably a corruption of Kilcormack, that is, Cor- 
mack's church. It is also spelled in old documents, 
" Killkarmick " and " Killharmick." The modern 
name Frankford is derived, as well from the town 
having been founded by Francis Magawley, as here- 
after mentioned, as from its vicinity to the ford here 
over the " Silver river." The remains of the ancient 
monastery of Kilcormuck, stood about the spot now 
occupied by the very fine Eoman Catholic Church 
erected at Frankford in late years. It is said the ruins 


of the monastery were pulled down many years ago, 
when the place of worship which preceded the present 
one was being built, and that a great quantity of human 
bones were then exhumed here, and again interred. 

The following information regarding Kilcormuck 
has been collected by Mr. Archdall : A monastery 
was founded at Kilcormuck for Carmelites, or White 
Friars, under the invocation of the Virgin Mary, by 
Odo, the son of Nellan O'Molloy, head of his sept. 
Eory O'Molloy, of the founder's family, died on 
Whitsunday in 1431 ; and in 1454, Odo, the founder, 
died on the feast of St. Remigius, and was interred in 
this abbey before the high altar. In 1468, the prior, 
Edward Brakan, died ; and on the vigil of the nativity 
of the Blessed Virgin, in 1478, Nellan, the son of 
Coucoghna O'Molloy, died, and he also was interred 
before the high altar. On the 5th of May 1479, died 
Charles O'Molloy, the son of Sina, " a brave man, and 
blessed with every human perfection." He was interred 
here at the upper end of the choir, on the north side. 
In 1525, Charles O'Molloy and his followers forcibly 
drew Hugh and Constantino O'Molloy out of this 
church, and inhumanly put them to death "before the 
gate of the convent." Nicholas Brakan, " lately prior 
here," died in the year 1536 ; Charles O'Molloy, the 
head of his sept, was interred here in 1542 ; and in 
1567, Arthur O'Molloy, also head of his sept, died. 

The Four Masters tell us, that " Saighir Chiarain 
and Killcormac were burned by the English and 
O'Carroll." in the vear 1548. 


This abbey and its possessions, were, on the 
suppression, granted to Eobert Leicester, and it 
appears by an inquisition postmortem taken at Philips 1 
town, in May 1662, " Eobert Lester, alias Leicester," 
was found to have been seized at the time of his death 
of the entire late priory, monastery, &c., of " Kilhar- 
mick, alias Killkarmick," with the town and lands of 
Kilharmick, and several other denominations, " parcell 
Of the possessions of the aforesaid monastery ; and 
tithes, as well great as small, within the aforesaid 
premises." On the attainder of Thomas " Leister," 
another of the family, the lands of " Kilcormuck," 
with other lands, were subsequently sold in 1703, 
subject to a quit-rent, to the Hollow Sword-Blade 
Company for 3,705, and the rectory of Kilcormuck 
was on the same attainder conveyed by the trustees at 
Chicester House, to trustees for the endowment of 
poor livings. 

It appears that notwithstanding this, a considerable 
portion of the Leicester property in the neighbour- 
hood, including Kilcormack, passed by the marriage 
of a lady of that family to one of the Magawley 
family, ancestor of the late Count Magawley Cerati 
di Calrie. It is unnecessary to say that Francis 
Magawley, already mentioned, and from whom Frank- 
fort derives its name, was one of the family. The 
Magawleys were formerly lords of an ancient Irish 
territory called Calrie, Calry, or by a Latin version, 
Calrigia, on the borders of the King's County and 
"Westmeath, and partly in each county. O'Dugan 


mentions Magawley, MacAuley, or MacAmhalgaidh, 
thus : 

" The fair MacAuley rides over 
The entire of the ports of Calrie." 

The " ports " here mentioned were on the river 
Shannon, to which the territory of Calry extended. 
The title " Count," borne by the head of the family in 
modern times, was acquired for services in the 
Austrian army ; the addition of " Cerati," was taken 
in consequence of the late Count's mother having been 
the representative of a noble Italian of that name, who 
was President of the University of Parma ; while " di 
Calrie " means, of Calrie, the ancient Irish district of 
the Magawleys. There is frequent mention of this 
ancient family in the early records of the country. 

The names of the principal inhabitants and traders 
of Frankford, in the year 1823, will be found (No. 16) 
in the Appendix. 

The very old village of Ballyboy is about a mile east 
from Frankford, and is also in the ancient Fearcall. 
Ballyboy is likewise on the " Silver river," which 
runs from thence to Frankford. The old orthography 
for the name of this place is Baile-atha-buidhe, that is, 
the town of the yellow ford. It is so named by the 
Four Masters at the year 1383, where they record that 
Loundres died there that year. Ballyboy must have 
been a place of considerable trade and importance 
more than 200 years ago, for there were then brass 
tokens struck in it of the same kind as those already 
described (p. 70), as having been issued at Birr 


about the same time. One of these tokens has on it, 
" Eob. Hutchinson. of. Ballyboy. March" (for Mar- 
chant), and was struck in 1668 ; and another struck 
about the same time has "Tho. Maire. of. Ballyboy 
Tanner." In former times, before railways, or even 
well appointed coaches, or two-horse cars, were known 
in Ireland, to Ballyboy appears to have been the first 
day's journey on the way from Birr to Dublin. For 
instance, we have seen (p. 80) that when Sir Laurence 
Parsons was being conveyed to Dublin in custody of 
the Sheriif, on the 2nd of April 1690, they proceeded 
on the first day, only as far as Ballyboy. It was like- 
wise so, at least occasionally, in much later times, for 
there yet remains the leathern saddle-bags which 
heretofore hung before the writer's father-in-law who 
died so late as 1810 when making his accustomed 
journey from Birr to Dublin on horseback ; Ballyboy, 
or the " Blue Ball," between Frankford and Tulla- 
more, being the first day's journey. It is said that a 
wretched room still exists in Ballyboy, in which King 
William III. slept a night. 

Amongst the castles and strongholds in the ancient 
Fearcall, we find not far from Frankford, the Castle of 
Broghall, variously called in former times Broghill, 
Broghaly, and Broghalloe. This castle stands close to, 
and on the northern side of, the silver river, and it appears 
to have been for a considerable time the chief resi- 
dence of O'Molloy, prince of Fearcall. When in 1537 
the Lord Deputy made an incursion into Fearcall 
against the O'Molloys, he surprised the Castle of 


"Broghill," which then at least, as well as in 1587, 
was the chief seat of O'Molloy. It is stated in the 
preface to O'Molloy's Irish Grammar, that notwith- 
standing the scarcity and dearness of provisions, the 
hospitality kept up at Broghill by the O'Molloy, about 
the close of the sixteenth century, was so profuse, that 
on one occasion he entertained 960 men in the house 
at Christmas time. From an inquisition taken at 
Philipstown, in March 1626, it appears that one 
Edward Birmingham resided in Broghill in February 
1610 ; and by a Grant, dated in July 1667, it also 
appears that the lands of Broghalloe, containing 758 
acres 3 roods 26 perches, with other denominations, were 
granted at the nominal quit-rent of 9, 9s. 8|d., to Sir 
William Petty, Knight ancestor to the Marquis of 

The Topographical and Historical Map of Ireland, 
showing the possessions of Irish princes, lords, and 
chiefs, as appended to the excellent translation of the 
Annals of the Four Masters, by the learned and much 
respected Owen Connellan, places Fitzsimon at Brog- 
hill, from the eleventh to the seventeenth century. 
This, however, is one of the very few errors appearing 
in this map, for the late Sir Nicholas Fitzsimon was 
only tenant to the castle and lands of Broghill, under 
the then Marquis of Lansdown. 

In 1632, Daniel " Molloye " occupied the Castle of 
Derealneye, of which he was the proprietor. The 
inquisition taken on his death, in the month of March 
that year, shows this, and states, that " Cosny 


Muloye " was his son and heir. This place is about 
a mile from Frankford on the way to Tullamore, and 
is now called Derrydolney. About 1846, while 
alterations were being made in the old dwelling-house 
of Derrydolney, which is not far from the castle, a 
stone bearing the armorial ensigns of the family of 
O'Molloy, was found built up in the walls. The 
following inscription was on it: "This house was 
erected by Philip Molloy and Mary Molloy his wife, 
in the year of our Lord God 1684, in the three and 
thirteeth years of Charles II., by the Grace of God 
King of England and Scotland, and France and 
Ireland, Defender of the Faith." 

Kiltubrid Castle was also a stronghold of the 
O'Molloy. It stood on an island adjoining the lands 
of Arm amor e, in the Parish of Drumcullen, and not 
very far from the ruins of Drumcullen (p. 154). The 
tribe of Cullen or Cullin, which was of blood with and 
subject to O'Molloy, lived about this place and pro- 
bably gave name to the parish. The name Kiltubrid 
signifies the church of the well, but we find it marked 
by the name " Annagh "on a map of the King's 
County, published between 1543 and 1602. The 
people of the neighbourhood generally call it " the 
Island of Kiltubrid," and the island itself was esti- 
mated to contain about three acres. It is not certain 
which of the O'Molloy's owned this place, but pro- 
bably it was the same person that owned Eathmackil- 
duffe, now Thomastown, the property of Francis 
Yalentine Bennett, D.L. Cole M'Art O'Molloy 


resided at Eathmackilduffe in 1612, and then claimed 
a carucate of land in Garrysallagh, i.e., " dirty garden," 
near Thomastown demense. The village at Thomas- 
town is also called " Rath," which seems to be used 
as an abbreviation for Eathmackilduffe, or, as it is 
otherwise written, Rathmacgiladuffe, i.e., the Fort of 
MacKilduff or MacGilduff. It is interesting to find 
a large and remarkable fort still in the neighbourhood. 
A portion of the lands of Rathmackilduffe, with 
Kiltubrid, Island, Rathmore, &c., were by letters 
patent, dated 15th of August in the 18th year of 
Charles II., granted to Edward Smith. How that 
portion of these lands came into the hands of the 
Crown is not clear. It is probable, however, that it 
happened in a manner similar to that by which the 
remainder of Rathmackilduffe subsequently found its 
way into the royal keeping, which was as follows : 
An inquisition was held at Philipstown on the 5th of 
April 1676, by which it was found that Terence 
Molloy, on the 22nd of October 1641, was seized of 
eighty acres and one perch in Rathmackilduff, Garry- 
sallagh, Ballyvoneen, and Tinnecross, in the territory 
of Eglish (besides 445 acres 2 roods 25 perches in the 
same townlands, formerly granted by the King to 
Edward Smith), and that he (Molloy) continued seized 
from that time until th.6 then late rebellion; by 
reason whereof, the premises were seized and seques- 
tered into the King's hands. Here we have an 
instance of confiscation, long deferred but sure, the 
inquiry which was said to entitle the Crown, not 


having been held until thirty-eight years after the 
alleged treason had been committed. 

In November 1851, there was found at "Muddy 
Lough," near Kiltubrid Castle, a very uncommon 
gold coloured vessel, about nine inches wide, by three 
and a half inches deep. At the same time was found 
there a very old shaped glass bottle, having a curious 
stamp on the side. 

Rathmackilduffe and the adjoining lands acquired 
the English name Thomastown, from Thomas Bennett, 
Esq.,' ancestor of the present Mr. Bennett, by whom 
the property was purchased. The Bennett family have 
greatly improved the neighbourhood, and there are 
few more neat, or, for the size, more complete villages 
than Thomastown, with its nice cottages, chapel, 
school-house, police barracks, and petty sessions court. 

In 1607, Shane Oge M'Teige O'Molloy resided at 
the Castle of Dowris, or, as it was afterwards called, 
Le Porte, about five miles north-east from Birr, and 
near the more modern Whigsborough, for a long time 
the residence of a branch of the respectable family of 
Drought. The old name Dowris, also written in old 
documents Dowross, Durus, Durys, Doores, and 
Dowfishe, means a gloomy wood, and includes several 
subdenominations in the neighbourhood. The Castle 
of Dowris was built on a small island in a lake called 
in modern times Lough Cowr or Cowra, but formerly 
known as Loughcurry and Loughcurrae. This island 
is called Port, or Le Port, in the Norman French 
fashion, derived from the Irish word port, a fort or 


garrison, in consequence of its having been one of the 
strongholds of the Princes of Fearcall. Le Porte 
Castle was advantageously situated on the frontier of 
MacCoghlan of Dealbna Eathra, between whom and 
the O'Molloys diiferences occasionally existed, as for 
instance, when in 1175, O'Molloy, Lord of "Fer- 
kale " was treacherously slain by the son of M'Coghlan 
as already mentioned (p. 228). 

Dowris is described in an inquisition post mortem, 
taken at Geashill, in October 1612, on the death of 
Gerald, Earl of Kildare, as the castle, town, and lands 
of " Durus." From this inquisition it appears that in 
July 1575, the Earl demised these premises by the 
name of " Dowrishe," to Sir Bernard Fitzpatrick, and 
that in May 1607 the Earl also demised the castle and 
lands of Durus, Portlough (the " fort of the lough "), 
and other lands to Shane Oge M'Teige O'Molloy, 
therein described as "then of Durus," and to Ana- 
bella Ny Horan of the " said Porte." From this it 
would appear that this Shane Oge M'Teige O'Molloy 
and Anabella then occupied that castle, once the patri- 
mony of Shane Oge's sept ; but that such occupation l 
by him was not as owner in fee, but as tenant to the ( ^ fit 
Earl of Kildare. The same inquisition also shows that 
the Earl and EichajrdJCalbot, by Indenture of May 
1609, gave the castle, town, and hamlet of Dowres, 
and Le Porte, alias Inchloughcurry (the " island in r 
Loughcurry " ), to one Neill Moore and said Ana- 
bella Ny Horan, who had become the wife of said 
Moore. Dowris was subsequently in the hands of the 


Parsons family ; for by inquisition taken at Birr, in 
September 1634, Sir Laurence Parsons, Knight, was 
found by the Court to have been seized of the towns 
and lands of "Dooras," and to have held them of the 
King in free and common socage. 

Some very remarkable events which created much 
interest amongst learned societies, have taken place in 
the neighbourhood of Downs within a comparatively 
recent period, and show that this must have been a 
celebrated place even in very remote times. At Dowris, 
between Whigsborough House and Lough Cowra, 
there is a place called Derreens, that is, the "little 
oak groves," where about the year 1825 two men- 
one being Edward Kennedy, sportsman to Mr. Drought, 
then of Whigsborough, when trenching potatoes, dis- 
covered in the earth several large bronze vessels, and 
with them at least a horse-load of beautiful gold 
coloured bronze antiquities were dug up. In fact, for 
quantity and variety, as well as for the perfect state 
of preservation and beautiful gold colour of the 
antiquities then brought to light, this was the most 
important discovery of the kind made in Ireland in 
modern times. 

Amongst the articles then exhumed were the several 
bronze vessels already mentioned, most of them com- 
posed of thin sheets of bronze, not thicker than strong 
paper. Bronze vessels were formerly esteemed of 
such great value in Ireland as to be considered worthy 
of being given and accepted, as a fit tribute and gift, 
to and by Irish kings and princes. Thus we find that 


Cathaoir-Mor bequeathed to Magh-Corb fifty copper 
cauldrons, with other articles, some made of gold, and 
all reckoned of great value. We also read in the 
Book of Rights, that a cauldron was to be given as 
tribute to the Kings of Cashel by the King of Team- 
hair Luachra. The golden colour of the Dowris 
vessels in which rich colour, as the late learned Dr. 
Petrie well observed, the King's County bronzes were 
unrivalled made them suitable presents to and from 
royalty ; and the high value of the material in the 
estimation of the maker, is shown by the thinness of 
the sheets of which these vessels were composed. 

With these large vessels were found a great many 
gold coloured bronze skeynes, but unfortunately the 
finders left scarcely any of them unbroken. There 
were likewise a number of gold coloured bronze arrow- 
heads, and gouges, with ornaments for the pommels of 
skeynes. Many gold coloured horns or trumpets, 
some large, and all curious and interesting, were 
found at the same time ; as were numerous gold 
coloured pear and spherical-shaped crotals or bells, 
which in themselves were a subject for most interest- 
ing study and inquiry. 

There were then also discovered a variety of celts 
of different sizes, as likewise hatchets, and spear-heads 
of various kinds, from the large war-spear to the 
small one used for hunting with. All these had the 
same rich gold tint. Some of the articles then found 
were rough from the casting and unfinished, and there 
were even several lumps of the waste gold coloured 



metal which remained after the operation of casting ; 
as likewise a number of small and large pieces of rub- 
stone having convex, concave, and flat surfaces, to suit 
the form of the various articles to be polished and 
finished up with them. In fine, the great quantity of 
things found, their Variety, and their being in an 
unfinished as well as in a finished state the amor- 
? "" fj phous lumps of spare metal, and the rub-stones, all 
. *l . \^ tend to the conclusion that in the gloomy woods from 
it* I which Dowris took its name, and the remains of which 
are still found beneath the surface, there was in past 
ages a famous manufactory of bronze utensils and 
weapons. If this be so, we are forced from the nature 
of the articles found, as well as from the material used, 
to the further conclusion that this manufactory must 
have existed here at least 2,000 years ago. 

The reader will find in the Proceedings of the Royal 
Irish Academy, two essays on these Dowris Bronzes, 
read before that learned body in November 1848, and 
December 1849, from which much information on this 
interesting subject may be obtained by those who wish 
for it. An account by the able chemist, Dr. Donovan, 
of his analysis of some of those bronzes was also read 
before the Academy in January 1850. 

Besides these bronze antiquities found at Dowris on 
this occasion, there was a large quantity of miscella- 
neous, comprising some very curious articles, found in 
July and August 1847, at Le Porte Castle, in the 
same neighbourhood. Amongst these were several 
curious bronze pins or fibula, as likewise a bronze 


surgical instrument combining a probe with a tenacu- 
lum. Portions of brass and iron helmets, parts of gun 
and pistol barrels, large iron cannon shot, one 
weighing 20 lb., portions of match and flint gun 
locks, leaden pellets, curious horse trappings both 
iron and brass, with bolts for quarrels or cross bows, 
and polishing stones, were amongst the numerous 
military articles then found. There were then also 
found at Le Porte a silver sixpenny bit and some 
copper coin of Queen Elizabeth, a French coin of 
Louis XIII., and several base coin of James II. ; with 
numerous iron keys, knives, scissors, spoons, and 
smoking pipes, and a quantity of broken delph and 
glass bottles, all of old pattern and fashion. There 
were then likewise discovered portions of the horns of 
the ancient Irish red deer. These mentioned are only 
a few of the curious articles then discovered at Le 
Porte, the variety and number of which show that 
there must have been a considerable garrison kept 
there from very early times; and also that the 
immediate vicinity was the scene of many a sanguinary 
contest, from the time when bronze served the place 
of steel, down to the flight of James II. from Ireland. 
In the autumn of 1828, a very remarkable event 
occurred at Cloneen, i.e., the little meadow, near 
Dowris. A fragment of a meteoric stone containing 
iron, mkel, and copper, in a metallic state, then fell 
at this place and killed two boys named John and 
Patrick Horan, who were making a stack of oats. One 
of them was on the stack, and the other pitching up 


the sheaves, when they were both killed instantaneously 
and their bodies burned black, their clothes, as well as 
the stack of oats, being totally consumed. The 
Horans' sister who was present, was also knocked 
down and burned in the side, but was not much 
injured. Up to the hour this happened the day had 
been fine ; no thunder was heard, but very heavy rain 
fell afterwards. A portion of the meteoric stone then 
found at Cloneen is now in the museum of the Eoyal 
Dublin Society. 

It has been seen (p. 25), that in 1532 the Earl of 
Kildare took Caislean-na-Hegailse and the castle of 
Ballindooney, that is, the castles of Eglish and of 
Ballindown. Both these places are in Fearcall; 
Eglish, where are also the remains of an ancient abbey, 
being in the neighbourhood of Dowris, while Ballin- 
down is nearer to Birr. The name Ballindown is said 
by Dr. O'Donovan to mean the " town of the Dun, or 
earthen fort." Amongst the volunteer corps raised in 
the King's County, we find (p. 91), the " Eglish 
Eangers" associated the 29th of August 17Y9, the 
uniform being scarlet, faced black, with silver epaulets. 
Major, Thomas Berry; Captain, John Drought; and 
Lieutenant, T. C. Clarke. 

The celebrated heath or plain of Moylena, according 
to OTlaherty and other writers, was in the portion of 
ancient Fearcall now comprised in the Barony of 
Eglish. On this plain was fought in the year 192, 
the battle of Moylena called Cath Muighelena by 
the Irish bards and historians where the monarch, 


Con of the Hundred Battles, overcame Eogan More, 
King of Munster, and his Spanish auxiliaries, many 
thousands being slain on both sides. Another great 
battle was fought at Moylena in 907, in which the 
Munster forces, under Cormac MacCullenan, Arch- 
bishop of Cashel and King of Munster, defeated with 
great slaughter, the army of Flann Sionna, monarch of 

There are several gentlemen of the name, who claim 
to be descended from the ancient Irish sept of 
O'Molloy of Fearcall. According to the learned Dr. 
O'Donovan, however, the late Daniel Molloy, J.P., of 
Clonbella, near Birr, was chief representative of 
O'Molloy, Prince of Fearcall. Near the entrance gate 
of Clonbella which is on the road from Birr to 
Thomastown, and in ancient Fearcall there is a 
remarkable chalybeate spring covered with a stone 
canopy, and kept in nice order. In September 1825, 
the water of this spa was analysed by a noble and 
well-informed amateur chemist, the late Eight Hon. 
William, Earl of Eosse, then Lord Oxmantown. His 
Lordship having afterwards attained a very high rank 
amongst eminent scientific and literary men, it may 
be interesting to give in his own words the result of 
this analysis of the water of the Clonbella Spa, made 
by him when a young man, and contained in a letter 
from him at the time to the humble individual who 
writes this. The following is a copy : 


" Friday Evening. 

"Enclosed I send you the analysis of the Olonbella 
water : it is, I believe, tolerably exact ; but as my balance can- 
not be depended upon beyond the tenth part of a grain, owing 
to its not having been taken the best care of, I have only given 
the first decimals. The water is acidulous and chalybeate, but 
was probably more concentrated than usual, as the summer had 
been peculiarly dry. I am, my dear Sir, sincerely yours, 

" One hundred cubic inches of the water contains of carbonic 
acid 17-4 cubic inches, carbotate of iron 4-5 grains, sulphate of 
lime 3-6 grains, muriate of soda 1'4 grains. 

" September 1825. The summer peculiarly dry." 



To the east of Fearcall lay the ancient territory of 
Hy Failgc, or Offaley, which comprised the present 
baronies of Warrenstown and Coolestown, with part 
of Geashill and Lower Philipstown, in the King's 
County ; the baronies of east and west Offaley in 
Kildare, and Portnehinch and Tinnehinch in the 
Queen's County. The 0' Conors Failge, or Faily, the 
kings or princes of Offaley, were called Failge to dis- 
tinguish them from other families of 0' Conor, or 
O'Conchobhuir, because they were descended from 
Eossa Failge, the son of Cahir More, monarch of Ire- 
land in the end of the second century. After the 
English invasion, the Fitzgeralds of Kildare appear to 
have taken from 0' Conor Failge and the other pos- 
sessors, the portion of the original Hy Failge com- 
prised in the present County of Kildare ; and there 
were thus two " Offalys " formed out of Hy Failge ; 
that is, the " English Offaly " in the County Kildare, 


giving the title .of Baron to a branch of the noble 
family of Fitzgerald ; and the "Irish Offaly " in the 
King's and Queen's Counties, giving the title of King 
of Offaly to 0' Conor Failge, the chief representative 
of Eossa Failge. 

It would exceed the limits intended for this work, 
to give anything like a full account of ancient Offaley 
and the 0' Conors Failge; but a few remarks concerning 
this renoundedjgept and their territory, a great part 
of which is included in the present King's County, will 
not be out of place. 

O'Dugan and O'Heerin thus allude to O'Conchob- 
huir, Prince of Hy Failge or Offaley : 

" Let us westward proceed" to Offaley, 
To which brave heroes make submission, 
Of their laws I make mention, 
Of their convention I make remembrance." 

" The Lord of Offaley, a land of mirth, 
Not unknown to the poets, 
Is 0' Conor the mainstay of the fair plain, 
Who rules at the green mound of Cruachan." 

Cruachan was the old name of Croghan, a very 
handsome hill within a few miles of Philipstown, in 
the King's County. The 0' Conors Failge were very 
powerful and warlike chiefs, and carried on various 
contests for nearly 300 years with the English, whom 
they often defeated. The chief fortress of the 
0' Conors was at Dangan, or Dingen, now Philips- 
town, and they appear to have preserved a large por- 
tion of their possessions up to the time of Philip and 


Mary, after which O'Diomosaigh, or O'Derapsey, Lord 
of Clanmaliere, became the chief family of the race, 
and remained in possession of a great part of Offaley 
until the revolution in 1688. 

The Four Masters tell us that 0' Conor Failge, 
with twenty-nine of his chiefs, were deceitfully 
slain in 1305, by Sir Pierce Bermingham, in his 
own castle ; and that, in 1321, " the sons of the 
King of Offaley " received a defeat from Andrew 
Bermingham and the English of Meath. Berming- 
ham' s castle here alluded to, was situate at Carbery, 
in the County of Kildare. In 1406, Murrogh 
0' Conor, " Lord of Offaley," gave a great defeat to 
the English, both parties having marched "to the 
upper part of Geashill." (See as to Geashill hereafter.) 
The Four Masters end a curious account of this trans- 
action thus : " It was on this expedition that the 
chief holy relic of Connaught, called Buocach Phatraig 
(the mitre of St. Patrick), which was kept at Elphin, 
was taken from the English." 

The Lord of Offaley in these days does not appear 
to have had much respect for the ministerial officers 
of the law ; for in 1411, according to the Four Masters, 
" the Sheriff of Meath was taken prisoner by 0' Conor 
Faily, and he exacted a great ransom for his libera- 
tion." The reader will pardon a slight digression 
here. The taking a sheriff prisoner would, no doubt, 
cause admiration even now ; but instead of gaining a 
ransom, the exploit might finally turn out to be very 
like the " catching of a Tartar." Yet it is well-known 


that sheriffs and their proceedings were not always 
treated in Ireland in the same quiet way as at present. 
To show this, it is not necessary to refer to the works 
of Lever, for the writer of these pages has still a letter 
written to his father, Eichard Cooke, so late as 1784, 
by a gentleman who then kept his coach and four, and 
who at the time of his death was a Deputy-Lieutenant 
and Justice of the Peace for the County Tipperary. 
His daughter was married to a British Privy Council- 
lor a celebrated M.P,, and holder of an important 
office in the diplomatic department. It appears that 
when this letter was written, the Sheriff of Tipperary 
had in his hands some legal process directing him to 
take possession of the place referred to, which is near 
Thurles, in the County Tipperary. This letter is as 
follows : 

" DEAB KICHABD, I shall be much obliged to you to send 
as many men as you possibly can to-morrow, to defend the pos- 
session of Clonamuckoge. I shall meet them as early as I can 
on the lands of Brownstown, which is joining Clonamuckoge. I 
write also to Rick Burk, and hope you will excuse this trouble. 
I assure you I expect it will be in my power to return the com- 
pliment. I am, with love to my aunt and Mary, dear Eichard, 
your affectionate kinsman, J. L. 

" STJKDAY, March 23rd, 1784." 

Such were the habits and dispositions of the higher 
classes, even at the comparatively late period when 
this letter was written. The statute making resistance 
to legal process a transportable offence was not passed 
at that time, but the resistance then given the Sheriff 


at Clonamuckoge caused its enactment, for it was only 
after several ineffectual attacks by the Sheriff, with 
military and innumerable bailiffs, that the house of 
Clonamuckoge was at length taken, by battering it 
from a distance with two pieces of artillery. 

To return to O'Conor Faily. We find that in 1421, 
Murrogh O'Conor, the Lord of Offaley, who had 
taken the Sheriff, and who, according to the Four 
Masters, "had defeated the English and Irish who 
opposed him in many battles," died at his own fortress 
after having " gained the victory over the world and 
the devil," and was interred in the monastery of 
Killachaidh (now Killoughy). The same year Murtagh 
O'Conor defeated MacGilpatrick and the English at 
the monastery of Leix, and having been taken ill of a 
severe disease, he retired to the Friary of Killoughy 
and took the monastic habit. He appointed his kins- 
man, Dermot O'Conor, to succeed him, and " died in 
a month after he became a friar." (See as to Killoughy 
further on.) 

The exploit of Murrogh O'Conor, in taking the 
Sheriff of Meath in 1411, was nothing, however, to 
what was done by another of the family soon after- 
wards; for the Four Masters record that in 1439 
" the King of England's Viceroy arrived in Ireland, 
and was taken prisoner by Cahir, the son of O'Conor. 
Faily, and after he had remained some time in con- 
finement, he was ransomed by the English in Dublin, 
who delivered the son of Plunket in his stead to 
Cahir." Much of the following information regarding 


O'Conor Faily is also taken from the same writers. 
In 1451, Margaret, daughter of Teige O'Carroll, and 
wife of O'Conor Faily, died. She was " the best 
woman of her time in Ireland, for it was she who 
gave two general entertainments of hospitality in the 
one year to the poor." On the following day her son, 
Felim O'Conor, heir to the lordship, died, after being 
in a consumptive disease for a long time. In 1461, 
O'Conor Faily marched into Meath with upwards of 
a thousand horsemen, to burn and waste Meath, and 
finally " he received great presents from the English 
for granting them peace, as was always customary 
with those who held his place." The English of 
Meath and Leinster marched into Offaley in 1466, but 
were defeated by O'Conor Faily; and Thomas Fitz- 
gerald, Earl of Desmond, was taken prisoner. In 
1493, Fionnguala, daughter of Calvagh O'Conor 
Faily, died after surviving two husbands and main- 
taining her widowhood for forty-nine years "in a 
chaste, honourable, pious, and devout manner ; " and 
the same year, " O'Conor Faily, that is Cahir, the son 
of Con, son of Calvagh, was defeated by MacGeoghe- 
gan ; " and about the same time, Torlogh O'Conor and 
Cathal O'Conor were hanged by the same Cahir 
O'Conor Faily. This Cahir O'Conor who is alluded 
to as "a generous entertainer of learned men, and a 
distinguished military leader among the English and 
Irish," was slain in 1511, near Monasteroris, by a 
party of his own people. 

The ruins of the Abbey of Monasteroris are near 


Edendery, in the King's County. It was founded in 
1325, by Sir John do Bermingham ; and Nicholas 
Herbert, who died in 1581, had a grant of it. This 
place was called Totmoy in early times, but the abbey 
was named "Monaster Feoris," meaning Berming- 
ham's monaster Bermingharn being called in Irish 
"Mac Feorais" Monasteroris was once a place of 
strength, and in 1521 held out a considerable time 
against the Earl of Surrey, then Lord Lieutenant, but 
he afterwards took and kept possession of it. 

The Four Masters informs us that in 1536, in the 
reign of Henry VIII., "O'Conor Faily, that is 
Bryan, the son of Cahir, was expelled from his terri- 
tory, and after many of his people had been slain, all 
his castles were taken and demolished by the Saxon 
Lord Justice, that is Lord Leonard (Lord Leonard 
Gray), and it was through the conspiracy and at the 
instigation of 0' Conor's own brother, Cathal Koe, 
these acts were perpetrated." The same writers state 
that O'Conor and O'Moore went to England in 1548, 
with "the Lieutenant," and the king gave their 
estates, Leix and Offaley, to the Lieutenant and his 
kinsmen (the Bellinghams), who built " two large 
courts " at Maryboro' and at Philipstown. They then 
began " to let these lands for rent, as if they had been 
their own rightful inheritance," after having expelled 
their hereditary heirs, O'Conor and O'Moore, with 
their families and kindred. 

This Bryan O'Conor married Lady Mary Fitz- 
gerald, daughter of the Earl of Kildare, and became 


involved in the Geraldine rising. It was in conse- 
quence of Lady Mary O'Connor having saved the 
young Earl in Offaley, that the family of Kildare rose 
again, the family having been destroyed unless this 
one child. 

In the Hibernia Anglicana, Cox gives an interesting 
account of a dispute between two chiefs of the 
0' Conors of Offaley, which was decided at the castle 
of Dublin in September 1583, in a trial by single 
combat or wager of battle, before Sir Henry Wallop, 
and Adam Loftus Archbishop of Dublin, the Lords 
Justices. The plaint, or indictment, as it may be now 
called in legal phraseology, on the part of Conor Mac- 
Cormac 0' Conor, accused Teige MacGillpatrickO' Conor 
before the Lords Justices and Council, of killing his 
men, they being under protection. Teige replied that 
after the protection they had confederated with a 
rebel, and were therefore rebels themselves, and 
which accusation he offered to justify by combat; and 
Conor accepted the challenge. The weapons, being 
sword and target, were chosen by defendant ; the 
next day was appointed for the trial, and patrons 
were assigned to introduce them into the lists. The 
day being come, and the court sitting, the litigants, 
or rather combatants, were also seated on two stools, 
one at each end of the inner court of the Castle of 
Dublin. Most of the military officers were present, 
and the pleadings having been read, the combatants 
were stripped to their shirts, and searched by Secretary 
Eenton, and each took an oath that his quarrel was 


true, and that he would justify it with his blood. 
Then, at the sound of the trumpet, a furious fight 
began, but after a time, Conor MacCormac, having been 
twice wounded in the leg, and once in the eye, en- 
deavoured to close with his adversary. Teige, how- 
ever, was too strong for him, and pummelled him till 
he loosened his murion, and then, having easily 
stunned him, he, with Conor's own sword, cut his 
head off, and presented it to the Lords Justices. 
Unhappy Ireland, whose gallant sons would thus 
become gladiators, and slaughter each other for the 
entertainment of the stranger ! 

0' Conor Faily absented himself from Queen Eliza- 
beth's Irish Parliament in 1585; and during the same 
reign, one of the family served with distinction in the 
Spanish Armada. In 1597, the O'Conor Faily, with 
Capt. Tyrrell and others, carried on a great war in 
Leinster from Lady-day to Christmas. In the course 
of this war, the battle of Tyrells-pass, in Westmeath, 
took place, where the English, being led by Tyrrell 
into an ambuscade formed by O'Conor and his men, 
were defeated with great slaughter, and only one man 
escaped. It is said that O'Conor showed great valour 
here, and cut down many of the English with his own 
hand ; and MacGeoghegan adds, that from the heat 
and great action of his sword-arm, O'Conor's hand 
became so swelled, that it could not be extricated 
from the guard of his sword until the handle was 
cut through with a file. 

In the year 1GOO, the O'Conors Faily were for 


some time in alliance with the Irish, and took- and 
demolished most of the castles of Offaley except Dan- 
gan (Philipstown), and some others. The Four 
Masters record that the Lord Justice went to Offaley 
about August in this year, " with many harrows, great 
iron rakes, and a great deal of scythes and sickles, and 
cut and destroyed the crops of the country, ripe and 
unripe ; " in consequence of which the inhabitants of 
that country had to go into banishment and exile 
until the end of the year. 

John 0' Conor, Esq., lineal descendant of Bryan 
0' Conor, and representative of the 0' Conors of 
Offaley, sat in 1689 in the Parliament of James II., 
as member for Philipstown ; and according to O'Hal- 
loran, another of the family, under the title of Count 
Ofalia, was Captain General of the coast of Grenada 
in Spain, about the year 1770. There is still a Conde* 
de Ofalia in Spain. "Wm. O'Connor Morris of Mount- 
pleasant, in the King's County, and Eutland Square, 
Dublin, Barrister-at-law, represents, in the maternal 
line, the 0' Conors of Offaley, being descended from 
John 0' Conor, the member for Philipstown, in 1689. 

Mr. O'Connor Morris still holds a small portion of 
the ancient principality in the King's County ; and 
on the roof of the mansion at Mountpleasant, erected 
by one of the family, there is a scroll recording that 
the owners were the " Princes of Offaley." 

Killeigh, already mentioned, and which is still the 
burial place of the O'Connor family, is in the barony of 
Geashill, in ancient Offaley. Mr. Archdall tells us 


that in the year 550, St. Sincheal M'Cenenain, Abbot 
of Killeach, died of the plague, and that he probably 
founded the priory of Augustin Canons of the Holy 
Cross of Killeigh. In 807, St. Tigernach, Abbot of 
Killeigh, died ; and in 872, Donogh M'Moylduin, the 
abbot, was slain in battle by the Danes. A nunnery 
was founded at Killeigh by the family of Wan-en soon 
after the arrival of the English, for nuns of the Order 
of St. Augustin ; and a house for Grey-friars was 
erected here in the reign of King Edward I. (1272 to 
1307), of which O'Conor was supposed to be the 
founder. Donald O'Bruin, "Guardian" of this 
friary, was made Bishop of Clonmacnoise in 1303. 
In the eighteenth year of the reign of Elizabeth, the 
monastery of Killeigh, with several parcels of lands 
and tithes, &c., was granted for ever in capite to John 
Lee, at the yearly rent of forty-five shillings and six- 
pence. Again, in May 1578, the abbey, with all its 
temporal possessions, was granted to Gerald, Earl of 
Kildare, and his heirs, at the yearly rent of thirty- 
three shillings and fourpence, he to maintain one 
able horseman. 

Killoughy, or Killaghy, also before referred to, was 
likewise called KiU-achad-dromfoda, from a long ridge 
of hills near it. This place was either in or adjoining 
the ancient Hyfaily, and although in the present 
barony of Ballyboy, is not far from the border of 
Geashill. We are informed that St. Sincheal M'Cene- 
nain, already mentioned as the founder of Killeigh 
Monastery, was Abbot and Bishop of Kill-achad- 


drom-foda, and that he died at the age of 130 years, and 
was interred in this abbey. St. JEngusius, in his 
litany, thus invokes him and others who "rest" in 
Killoughy " Terquinquagenos sanctos monachos cum 12 
peregrinis, qui cum Sto Sinchello junior e presbytero, 6f 
Sto Sinchello seniore episcopo, fy 12 episcopis qui quies- 
cunt in Kittachaddromfoda in regione Hyfailge ; invoco 
in auxilium meum per Jesum Christum" 

There were many other celebrated abbeys, castles, 
&c., in the portion of ancient Offaley included in the 
modern King's County, as Durrow of St. Columb or 
Columbkill, Lynally called formerly Landelo, Bally- 
cowen, &c., but which could not be particularly 
referred to here. 

It has been mentioned (p. 29) that when the King's 
County was being formed in 1557, Dingen orDangan, 
the chief seat of the 0' Conors of Offaley theretofore, 
but where Lieutenant Bryan had erected a castle 
for the English in 1548, was named Philipstown. It 
was then so named by Act of Parliament, from Philip, 
the husband of Queen Mary, and Maryborough then 
also took its name from Queen Mary herself. Philips- 
town, or " Phillipstowne," then (1557) became the 
capital and Assize town of the King's County, and so 
continued until about the year 1833, when the Assizes 
commenced to be held in Tullamore. In 1569, 
" Phillipstowne " obtained a Charter of Incorporation, 
and in the beginning of the reign of James II., was 
privileged to send two members to Parliament, which 
continued to be done until the Union. 


In Mercator's Map of Ireland, already mentioned 
as having been published at Amsterdam in 1623, this 
town is called " Bally roy" which seems a compound 
of Irish and French, meaning, "the town of the king." 
In former days Philipstown must have been a place 
of considerable importance, for Spencer, in his View of 
the State of Ireland, says there was " good store of 
people and trade in Philipstown when he wrote (159 6), 
and that by reason of the forts there, and at Mary- 
borough, " there were good towns then grown which 
were the greatest stay of the King's and Queen's 
Counties." In Boate and Molyneux's Natural History 
of Ireland mention is made of a Mrs. Eckleston who 
died at Philipstown in 1691. She was born in 1548, 1 
and was therefore 143 years old when she died. The 
decline of Philipstown in late years seems owing in a 
great measure to the extension to Tullamore of the 
Grand Canal, which formerly terminated at Philips- 
town, and to the removal of the Assizes to Tullamore, 
as already mentioned. The names of the principal 
inhabitants of Philipstown in 1823 will be found 
(No. 17) in the Appendix. 

Tullamore, the present Assize Town of the King's 
County, is situate in a part of the barony of Eallycowen, 
which appears to have been included in the ancient 
territory of O'Diomosaigh, or O'Dempsey, Lord of 
Clanmaliere, who is thus referred to by O'Heerin : 

" Clanmaliere above all tribes, 
Noble is the source of their pedigree, 
The smooth plains of the land they have defended, 
The country is the inheritance of the O'Dempst-y." 


Clanmaliere comprised parts of the baronies of Geas- 
hill, Philipstown, and Ballycowen, in the King's 
County, with portions of the Queen's County and 
Kildare. The O'Dempseys had their chief castle at 
Geashill, and they contended with the English under 
Strongbow, in 1173. Geashill, thus alluded to, was 
a very celebrated place, and is frequently mentioned 
in the old annals. Thus it is recorded that Heremon 
and Heber Fionn, sons of Miletius, having contended 
for the sovereignty of Ireland, they fought a great 
battle at Geisiol (Geashill) about a thousand years 
before the Christian era, in which Heber *was slain, 
and his forces were defeated, and Heremon thereupon 
became the first Milesian monarch of Ireland. There 
were also some very early synods of the Clergy held 
at Geashill, one of which, where SS. Brendan and 
Columbkill were present, has been already alluded to 
(p. 11). There were likewise several inquisitions held 
at Geashill in later times, some of which are referred 
to in this work. 

Maurice Eegan describes an attack made by the 
I O'Dempseys on the English army, in which Eobert de 
[Quincy, son-in-law of Strongbow, and standard- 
bearer of Leinster, was slain, and the banner of 
Leinster was lost. The O'Dempseys were deprived of 
most of their possessions after the Elizabethian wars, 
but they afterwards obtained regrants of a considerable 
portion. Sir Terence O'Dempsey was knighted in 
1599, and was created Baron of Philipstown and 
Viscount Clanmaliere in 1631, but the title appears to 
have become extinct in 1714, 


Tullamore seems to have been not much better than 
a village until comparatively late years, and Mr. 
Seward in his Topographia Hibernica, written towards 
the end of the eighteenth century, says it was then 
"but a small place." Tullamore was burned by an 
accidental fire about 1790, and was then rebuilt in a 
better manner with the assistance of Lord Charleville. 
The name Tullamore is derived from the Irish, Tullagh, \ 
a rising ground, and more, great, that is, the great I 
rising ground ; a name which the gentle yet consider- 
able ascent of the principal street from the river seems 
to make peculiarly applicable. The town and lands 
of Tullamore, with several other lands, making alto- 
gether about 1,147 acres, were granted to Sir John 
Moore of Croghan Castle, in 1622, about the time Bin- 
was granted to the Parsons family; This Sir John 
Moore was married to the daughter of Adam Loftus, 
Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. 
Thomas Moore, afterwards of Croghan, was represen- 
tative for Philipstown. The Eight Hon. John Moore 
of Croghan, was M.P. for the King's County, and was 
subsequently raised to the Irish Peerage in 1715, as 
Baron Moore of Tullamore. Charles Moore, the second 
Baron, was created Earl of Charleville in September 
1758, and on his death in 1764 the title became ex- 
tinct, but the estates passed to his nephew, John 
Bury, Esq., whose only son, Charles William Bury, 
became Earl of Charleville in 1806. Owing to the 
grant of the place to the Moore family, the appellation 
TuUawoore was occasionally substituted for the more 


ancient Irish one, although in the grant it is called 
Tullamore. This innovation in the name is of long 
standing however, for upon a small copper penny 
token issued there in 1670 by Eobert Worrell, a 
hosier or bootmaker, it is called Tullamoore. The 
existence of this token would lead one to believe there 
was some considerable trade carried on there at the 

"When the volunteers were being enrolled in Ireland, 
towards the end of the last century (see p. 90), a 
corps called the " Tullamore True Blue Eangers," was 
formed in Tullamore. This corps was associated the 
28th of October 1778, the uniform being scarlet, faced 
blue, with silver lace. The corps was commanded by 
Colonel Charles Wm. Bury. 

Who has not heard of the celebrated Tullamoore 
shilling ? It is a copper token weighing more than 
two penny pieces, and was issued in 1802 to pay the 
workmen then engaged in building Charleville Castle. 
It bears on one side the Charleville arms within 
" Charleville Forest," and " Industry shall prosper, 
1802 ; " and on the reverse is inscribed, " One 
shilling and one penny, payable at Tullamoore first 
Tuesday in each month." 

In 1808 a strange, but very serious conflict, took 
place in Tullamore between the cavalry and infantry 
of the German Legion then quartered there, under the 
command of General Baron Bock, on the one side, and 
a light brigade of Irish Militia which happened to be 
. marching through the town, on the other. There is 


much difference as to the origin of this conflict, but 
the more correct opinion seems to be that it originated 
in the trifling circumstance of a soldier of one nation 
having taken a switch from a child belonging to 
the other. However that may be, all the troops in the 
town soon became engaged, and bugles and trumpets 
sounded in despite of the officers. The German cavalry 
charged, but their Irish opponents received them with 
a steady fire, partly from houses, and from under cover 
of gateways and lanes. A regiment of German infantry 
having marched round, sought to take the militia in 
the rere, but just as they were proceeding in full force 
down the hill, about the place where the late respected 
Francis Berry, J.P., resided, a single company of the 
Irish charged them with the bayonet, and the entire 
German regiment fled in disorder. Many were killed 
and wounded on both sides. The appearance of the 
venerable grey-headed General Bock, on horseback, 
hat in hand, between the fire of both parties, en- 
deavouring to restore order, was noble and imposing 
in the extreme. In the little graveyard of Kilcrutten, 
opposite and not far from the chief entrance to Tulla- 
morc Court House, there is a handsome pillar monu- 
ment erected to the memory of Frederick Wm. Baron 
Oldenhausen, a captain in the German dragoons, who 
was killed in this affair. A man named Egan, an in- 
habitant of Tullamore, was quietly looking on without 
giving offence to either party, but having endeavoured 
to remove the dead body of an Irish soldier from being 
trampled on by the German horses, ho was brutally 


cut to pieces by the foreigners. Egan's father, for the 
loss of his son, had a pension settled on him for the 
remainder of his life. 

Chaiieville Castle, the seat of the Earls of Charle- 
ville, is a very fine building, in the style of an English 
baronial castle. It is something less than a mile from 
Tullamore. The County Court and Gaol are both good 
buildings. The Protestant Church is a fine edifice 
erected upon a hill about a quarter of a mile from the 
town. It was built about 1818, and is said to have 
cost over 8,000. The Eoman Catholic Church, which 
is spacious and nicely finished, is situate towards the 
centre of the town. 

In the Appendix will be found (No. 18), the names 
of the principal inhabitants of Tullamore in 1823. 

Hy Eiagain, or Hy Began, the territory of the 
O'Dunns, comprised the present barony of Tinnehinch, 
in the Queen's County a portion of ancient Offaley 
which now adjoins the more modern King's County. 
The boundary between the ancient Ely O'Carroll and 
Hy Eiagain, which is also part of the present bounds 
between the King's and Queen's Counties, is only a 
short distance from Cadamstown already mentioned 
(p. 163). The O'Dunns, also spelled O'Duinn and 
O'Dunne, chiefs of Hy Eiagain, were like the 
0' Conors, of the race of Heremon. by the monarch 
Cahir More and Eossa Failge his son ; and were 
chiefs of much power and importance in former times. 
Some of the family were afterwards called O'Doyne. 
In the old annals of the country there is frequent 


reference to the O'Dunns, chiefs of Hy Eiagain. 
Thus we find from the Four Masters that Bebinn, 
daughter of Donal O'Dunn and wife of O'Dempsey, 
died in 1376. The O'Dempseys have been already 
referred to as Lords of Clanmaliere. "We again learn 
from the same writers that in 1379, David O'Dunn, 
"chief of Hy Eiagain," was slain by the son of 
Carroll O'Dunn; and they also relate that Eoderick 
O'Dunn, " chief of Hy Eiagain," died in the year 

O'Heerin thus alludes to the O'Dunns or O'Duinns : 

" Over Hy Regan of the mighty victories, 
Are active warriors who conquer in battle, 
O'Dunn is chief of the conquering troops, 
The mainstay of the battling spears." 

Teige Logha O'Doyne, or O'Duinne, was married to 
Margaret, daughter to the celebrated Shane O'Neill, 
and his treaty with St. Leger in the reign of Henry 
VIII., is mentioned by Carcw and by Morrin. The 
Four Masters notice that neither O'Dunn or O'Demp- 
sey attended Queen Elizabeth's Irish Parliament in 
1585. According to Morrison and other writers, 
although Sir Terence O'Dempsey and Teige O'Doyne 
of that period joined the Queen towards the close of 
the Irish wars of Elizabeth, the O'Conors, O'Molloys, 
and O'Dunns had then 468 foot and 12 horse in the 
King's County against the Queen, and which were 
afterwards increased by MacCoghlan with 200, and 
by the O'Dunns with 100 more. 



The estate of Brittas, nearly in the centre of the 
ancient Hy Kiagain, the territory of the O'Dunns, has 
for time immemorial been in the possession of the 
family; and within their former extensive territory 
around, there are numerous remains of their castles 
and strongholds. Brittas was surrendered to James I. 
when required, and a grant was retaken in fee by Dr. 
Charles Dunne, who in 1602 was M.P. for Trinity 
College. He was also Vice-Chancellor of the College, 
and a Master in Chancery. In his petition to the 
.Lord Deputy and Council in 1608, Dr. Dunne re- 
marks that "Teige Eeaghe O'Doyne, sonne to Mar- 
garet daughter to Shane O'Neyle, is not a fitt ruler 
over so strong a countrye, and so fitt for rebellion as 
Iregaine is." 

This Dr. Charles Dunne had a brother named 
Barnaby, from whom is descended General Francis 
Plunket Dunne now of Brittas, in the Queen's County, 
the present head of this brave and illustrious old Irish 
race, now so fitly represented by him and his brothers. 
It would be impossible to give here more than a short 
account of this ancient clan. The pedigree of the 
O'Dunnes, however, has been given by M'Firbis, 
O'Donovan, and others., and General Dunne has many 
most interesting original documents relating to the 
family. He has likewise a tracing of a very curious 
Irish manuscript, discovered by the late respected 
Win. Smith O'Brien in the convent of St. Isidore, at 
Eouen in France. This manuscript was written by 
Teige, or Terence, O'Doyne, and is dated in 1633. It 


commences thus : "A prayer for Teige, son of AenguSj 
son of Eory O'Dunn," and gives much information as 
to the pedigree of the family, and as to places in their 
ancient territory. It is written in Irish, and contains 
some very unusual abbreviations. 

The country of the O'Dunns appears to have been 
much covered by woods, and to have been very diffi- 
cult of access in former times, and accordingly we have 
seen (p. 62) the dangers and difficulties of a passage 
through " the woods of Irregan," referred to by Lord 
Castlehaven. This is also alluded to by other writers. 
The O'Dunns were likewise frequently called 
" O'Dunns of the mountain," from the nature of their 
country. This was expressed in Irish, " Ua Duin an 

About the year 1849, an interesting discovery was 
made on the property of General Dunne at Lough 
Armagh, a natural piece of water about three quarters 
of a mile long and half a mile wide, between the 
King's and Queen's Counties, and not very far from 
Brittas. There were then discovered in this Lough 
four or five ancient Irish boats of the kind called 
Crannoffj each made from a single oak tree. The 
general length of these boats was over twenty feet, 
and each was about two and a half feet wide. When 
discovered they all lay in the same part of the lough, 
each having the same dip in the sand, and all lying 
with the bows in the same direction ; from which it 
would appear as if they were all overwhelmed to- 
gether in the same common catastrophe. An account 


of this discovery, with a particular description of one 
of the boats then found, will be seen in the Transac- 
tions of the Kilkenny Archceological Society for Septem- 
ber 1852. It is said that in comparatively recent 
years, oak framing has been visible in the middle of 
the lough where it is least deep. There is likewise 
a local tradition to the effect that in the war of 1641, 
a house of timber was erected on this platform by a 
party of insurgents, and that they went out at night in 
a boat and plundered the surrounding neighbourhood. 
The village of Clonaslee, the property of General 
Dunne, adjoins Brittas. The name Clonaslee pro- 
bably signifies the plain, or retired place of the pass. 



IN the neighbourhood of Birr the Little Brusna river 
divides the King's County from Lower Ormond in 
the County of Tipperary. It has been stated (p. 2 14) that 
this river probably takes its name from the village of 
Brusna, a few miles from Birr. In passing from Birr 
into the nearest part of Lower Ormond, we cross this 
river at Bally loughnane, in later times called Rivers- 
town, within less than a mile of Birr. The hill yet 
called " Gallows Hill," from having been formerly a 
place of execution names so acquired are never for- 
gotten in Ireland lies between Birr and Ballylough- 
nane. A castle stood heretofore at the King's County 
side of the river, close to the bridge at Ballylouglmane, 
nit the walls fell in 1848, leaving the present large 
heap of debris to mark the spot where this castle 
formerly stood. It was called the castle of Ballindarra 


or Ballindarraghe, which means "the town of the 
oaks," and this is still the name of the adjoining 
lands. The name "Lough- 
nane's town," and seems to have been chiefly 
applied to the Tipperary side of the river, where, 
even in late years, there were several persons of the 
name resident. 

The castle and lands of Ballindarragh appear to 
have been the property of Arthur Coghlan about the 
time the Parsons family settled at Birr. An inquisi- 
tion post mortem taken at Philipstown in March 1631, 
states, however, that Francis Ackland was seized at 
his death, together with other lands at Ballindarragh, 
" of one castle and bawn and 30 acres of arable and 
pasture land in the town of Ballindarraghe aforesaid." 
The same inquisition further found that this Francis 
Ackland had died about two years before, and that 
Francis Ackland, his son and heir, was sixteen years 
of age and unmarried. The premises were held of the 
king in free and common socage. 

Although part of the lands of Ballindarragh were 
granted to Sir Laurence Parsons by patent in 1620, 
it has been seen (p. 38) that the " castle and bawn," 
with a portion of these lands, were then excepted from 
this grant. The castle and excepted portion of land 
were, however, subsequently mortgaged to the widow 
of Sir Laurence, and having been finally purchased by 
her, she demised by will the " castle and bawn," to 
her son Fenton Parsons. The castle of Ballindarragh 
was afterwards occupied as an outpost by the Birr 


garrison in several of the contests between them and 
the surrounding Irish ; and, so far as appears from the 
MS. Journal of the Siege of Birr already referred to 
(p. 57), the castle was attacked by the Irish on the 
28th of January 1642, but without success. Accord- 
ing to the same authority, Ballindarragh castle was 
again attacked in September following, when all the 
houses about it were burned, and many of the assail- 
ants were killed by the fire of musketry, and by stones 
and firebrands cast at them over the surrounding 
walls; and finally, the attacking party went away 
after having " set fire to the door of the castle which 
the warders had walled up on the inside." 

On "Plough Monday," the 10th of January 1848, 
the walls of this castle spontaneously fell with a loud 
crash. It had been rent from top to bottom for many 
years, and the fissure was observed to have greatly 
increased some time before the castle fell. On the day 
mentioned to use the words of a person who had been 
looking on the two sides gradually and slowly 
opened asunder, and each fell out prostrate from the 
centre. The walls were some minutes separating 
before the two masses of masonry overbalanced their 
respective centres of gravity, but then the whole was 
precipitated to the ground. The lateral pressure 
of the massive stone arches which formed the ceilings 
and floors of the building, seems to have been the im- 
mediate cause of forcing the walls asunder. 

On the Little Brusna river not far above the 
site of Ballindarragh castle, there is a place called 


Ath-na-gceain, " the ford of the head," where, according 
to tradition, a battle formerly took place. 

A short distance from Ballyloughnane on entering 
Lower Ormond by the road to Ballingarry, a prospect 
of considerable beauty opens before one. In front at 
a few miles distance rises the well-known hill called 
Knocksheegowna, with its fairy inhabited castle on the 
summit, bringing to mind the history, stories, and 
legends of old Ireland in past times. The name 
Knocksheegowna is generally reputed to mean " the 
hill of the fairies," but it seems literally to be "the 
hill of the heifer spirit," the cattle god of the Irish 
in pagan times. This hill was then probably cele- 
brated for the worship of that false deity, and the 
neighbourhood is even yet particularly suited for 
the rearing of heifers. It seems to have been from 
the Irish deities the popular idea of fairies originated ; 
and Knocksheegowna has long been supposed to be 
the head quarters of " the gentle people." Indeed the 
name and the romantic appearance of this hill, and the 
associations connected with it, suggest the presence 
here, if anywhere, of "the good people." 

At the foot of Knochsheegowna is the village of 
Ballingarry the ancient Baile-an-Gharrdha, or " town 
of the garden." We are here again reminded of 
never-ending dissensions not only amongst Irishmen, 
but even among Irishmen of the same family ; for the 
Four Masters record that in 1599, " John, the son of 
Giolla-Dubh, son of James O'Kennedy of Baile-an- 
Gharrdha of Knoch-Sith-Una (Knocksheegowna) in 


Ormond, was slain by Hugh, the son of Murrogh 
O'Kennedy of Baile-ui-Chaire." This latter place 
is now called Ballyquirk, and is about two miles 
from the celebrated abbey of Lorha in Lower 

Leaving Knocksheegowna and the fairies, we return 
to the neighbourhood of Ballyloughnane. Not far 
from the village, on a rising ground amidst elegant 
plantations, and with a fine prospect taking in Knock- 
sheegowna and the Little Brusna river, stands Baronne 
Court, the beautiful residence of Mrs. Marshall, relict 
of the late Eev. Joseph Marshall, J.P., who had con- 
siderable property in the vicinity. The charming view 
of this elegant mansion, must now also cause in those 
who remember the late owner, a feeling of regret for 
the loss of the honest Justice, the kind, indulgent 
landlord, and sincere friend, such as Ireland can 
badly afford to lose. The writer of these pages had 
frequent opportunities for observing the honesty of 
purpose, and the intelligence, invariably shown by the 
late Eev. Mr. Marshall on the magisterial bench ; and 
he had learned, from long experience, how great was 
the confidence of litigants on either side, that they 
would meet with nothing but fair play from the Rev. 
Justice. The respect shown by the tenantry for his 
memory, and for his widow and young family since his 
death, is the best testimony to the character of the late 
reverend gentleman as a landlord. He died in 1865, 
and rests in the ancient burial ground at Loughkeen, 
not far from Baronne Court. Here his widow erected 



to his memory, a beautiful cut stone altar tomb, sur- 
mounted by a cross. 

About a quarter of a mile from Ballyloughnane on 
the way to Lorha, a rather narrow road branches off 
to the right, leading to Croghan. This road is com- 
monly called " Lis Lane," and close to it at the 
right side and not far from the Lorha road there is a 
very remarkable and perfect "fort," planted with 
trees. Such forts are called in Irish rath, lios, or Us, 
and dun, each meaning a fortress or habitation ; and 
they are generally supposed by the people of the 
country, to be the work of the Danes. This is an error, 
however, for although the Danes may have erected a 
few of them, the ancient Irish themselves long before 
the coming of the Danes, raised nearly the entire of 
the numerous forts of this description, yet to be found 
in Ireland. The multitude of places in this country, 
the names of which commence with "Kath," "Lis," 
or "Dun," show how very numerous these forts must 
have formerly been. They appear to have been used 
in very remote times by Irish kings, chiefs, and 
others, for a protection to their dwellings erected with 
timber upon them ; and there was sometimes a further 
enclosed space, probably for persons of inferior degree 
and for cattle, &c., adjoining the principal circular 
mound or fort. The rath at " Lis Lane " has this 
additional enclosure also, with the remains of the 
rampart surrounding it, and traces of the entrance 
to the east side; and altogether, this place, so con- 
venient to Birr, is worthy of a visit. At Drum- 


cullen, near Kinnitty, there is a fort almost similar to 
this one. 

About four miles from Birr, still on the Lorha road, 
is Sraduffe, Shraduffe, or Straduffe, the residence of 
the Antisell family, where this very respectable old 
family has been settled for nearly two centuries. This 
family appears to have been known by the different 
names Antisell, Entwissel, and Anketel. They came 
to Ireland from Enswell in Lancashire, and settled 
at Killowning, now called Castle "Wellington, near 
Nenagh, from which they afterwards removed to Shra- 
duffe, which was purchased by Christopher Antisell in 
1709. The following incident relative to a member 
of the family, affords an example of the now almost 
forgotten code of honour resorted to in Ireland even 
in comparatively recent times, and by the most 
enlightened and best educated classes. The late 
Christopher Antisell of the Shraduffe family, barrister- 
at-law, and for a long time father of the Irish bar, was 
known to have had the most strict notions of honour, 
with a very warm temper. About the year 1825, the 
late Eobert Holmes, also barrister-at-law, and who 
was likewise father of the bar for many years before 
his death, was engaged as Counsel on one side, while 
Mr. Antisell was on the other, in a suit then pending 
in the Court of Exchequer. In the course of some 
argument in Court, Mr. Antisell, carried away by that 
anxiety for his client which always distinguished him, 
used in the warmth of debate some expression which 
Mr. Holmes took offence at. The same evening the 


late Mr. Daniel, Q.C., waited on Mr. Antisell for an 
explanation, and was by him referred to Mr. 
Thomas Lalor Cooke, the writer of this account of 
the occurrence, as a person authorized to act for 
him. Fortunately neither of the deputed friends were 
inclined to resort to hostilities, if such could be 
avoided; but while they were thus peaceably dis- 
posed, the principals were men of great personal 
bravery, and of determination almost amounting to 
obstinacy ; and each had been previously engaged in 
one or more affairs of honour. The greater part of 
two days having been spent in negotiating, a hostile 
meeting seemed likely to result from Messrs. Daniel 
and Cooke not being able to agree as to the facts, 
neither of them having been present at what occurred 
in the Court of Exchequer. 

At this stage of the affair, Mr. Cooke applied to the 
late Daniel O'Connell, who having been present at the 
original transaction in Court, and being indifferent 
between the parties, was perfectly capable of deciding 
as to the facts. "Why, Cooke," said the Liberator 
as he placed a hand on his shoulder, "my opinion is 
that Antisell is wrong. He insulted Holmes first, and 
he now wants to shoot him if he perseveres, and does 
not apologize." Having his own opinion on the case 
thus backed by so competent an authority, Mr. Cooke 
agreed that an apology should be given, and Mr. 
Daniel consented that it should be received. The 
insult having been offered in the Court of Exchequer, 
it was arranged that Messrs. Holmes and Antisell, 


accompanied by their two friends, should meet in the 
private chamber of one of the Barons, and that the 
amende honourable should be there made in presence 
only, besides those mentioned, of Mr. O'Connell and 
Master Goold, as members of the bar. At the ap- 
pointed time these six gentlemen met, and a mild 
form of apology having been read, it was followed 
by a more ample spontaneous one, which, much 
to the credit of him who spoke it, seemed to flow 
from a generous and brave heart. It is unneces- 
sary to add, that the parties separated perfectly 

Christopher Antisell, the father of the Irish bar, 
here alluded to, had a brother, John Antisell, who 
resided in Birr until shortly before his death in 
1810. It is this Mr. John Antisell who is referred 
to (p. 234), as the writer's father-in-law, and one 
of those accustomed to travel on horseback from 
Birr to Dublin in days gone by, stopping at Bally- 
boy or the "Blue Ball," as the first day's journey. 
It was he likewise who saved Sir Laurence Parsons 
from the drunken yeomanry in Birr, as also men- 
tioned (p. 96). He had considerable property and 
influence in Birr and the neighbourhood, and took 
an active part in endeavouring to calm the animosity 
which existed there in these troubled times; and 
to his influence and exertions, many were then 
indebted for their safety. 

A short distance beyond Shraduffe is Derrylahan 
Park, the fine residence of William Henry Head, J.P. 


The name Derrylahan, signifying the " broad oak 
wood," shows there must have been extensive plan- 
tations of oak here at an early period. Mr. 
Head has erected at great expense within a few 
years back, a handsome new mansion, with a nice 
entrance and gate lodge. 



THE celebrated abbey known as Lorra, Lorha, 
Lorragh, or Lorho, is about eight miles west from 
Birr, in a village to which, as well as to the parish, 
the abbey has given its name, in the barony of 
Lower Ormond and County of Tipperary. Lorha is 
situate in a quiet, romantic looking valley almost 
surrounded by hills, and seems just such a place as 
would be selected for their residence, by men intend- 
ing to live in peace, if permitted to do so. 

Lorha is generally called Lothra in the old annals, 
and it was also named Lothair. It was likewise 
known as Rathnagranagh, that is, " fort of the sun 
ford " ; and it is so named even so late as the 22nd of 
March 1702, in the enrolment of appointments for 
augmentation of livings, where we find " Rathna- 
granagh alias Lorho to augment the Vic. of Lorho 
Killaloe Diocese." It is curious to find still a very 


remarkable fort or moat on the verge of the river 
near one of the bridges at Lorha, and where, of course, 
there was formerly a ford. There appears to have 
been at least three religious houses at Lorha, the 
remains of one being near the present Roman 
Catholic Church, another where are portions of two 
ancient stone crosses at the Protestant Church, and 
between these, the third, known as " Monaster-a- 
cuinain" which probably means Kennedy's monastery. 
Near this latter, but on the opposite side of the pre- 
sent road, there is a covered spring, commonly known 
s " Ruadhan' s well." 

e nave already seen (p- 215) that, according to 
Colgan, St. Patrick visited Lothra or Lorha, as also 
Tirdaglass, now Teiryglass, in the neighbourhood. 
St. Ruadan, Ruadhan, or Ruathan, the founder of 
Lothra, was likewise called Rodanus, and may have 

been called Ruadhan from ruadh, which means "red 

t ' 

haired." He was of royal blood, having been, ac- l 
cording to the O'Clerighs, fourth in descent from 
Oilioll Olum, King of Munster, in the third century. 
St. Ruadan was also counted one of the " Twelve 
Apostles of Erin." In an Irish poem on Tara, 
Teamhair, Teamair, or Temor, by Cuan O'Lochain, a 
celebrated bard who died in 1024 (as translated), St. 
Ruadan and a synod held by him there, are thus 
referred to : 

" In this rath was held the synod of Patrick, 
And the synods of Brendan and of Kuadan, 
And afterwards the synod of Adamnan." 


The cursing of Tara by St. Euadhan, is mentioned 
by different writers with slight variations. The cir- 
cumstances appear to be as follows : Dermod or 
Diarmaid, King of Ireland, called MacCarroll, took 
prisoner a brother or near relative of St. Euadhan, and 
the Saint in consequence having laid a curse on Tara, 
no other king resided there after the death of Dermod 
in 565. The Book of Rights, as translated by John 
O'Donovan, Esq., describes this occurrence thus : 
" The cause of the extinction of the regality of Team- 
hair was the fasting of Patrick and his people against 
Laeghaire, the son of Niall, and the fasting of 
Kuadhan of Lothair, the son of Aengus, with the 
Saints of Eire, against Diarmaid, son of Cearbhall, and 
against the four tribes of Teamhair ; and these saints 
promised (i.e., predicted) that there should not be a 
house at Teamhair of the race of Laeghaire, or of the 
seed of Niall (but) that there should be of the race of 
Oilioll Olum." An ancient Irish bard, as translated, 
thus refers to it : 

" From the reign of the brown haired Dennod, 
Son of Fergus, son of Carroll, 
From the judgment of Huadhan on his house, 
There was no king at Temor." 

A full account of the cursing of Tara by St. 
Euadhan of Lorha, will be found in Petrie's History 
and Antiquities of Tara Hill. The following informa- 
tion regarding Lorha is taken from Mr. Archdall's 
Monasticon and other sources : 

An abbey for Eegular Canons was founded at 


Lothra or Lorha in the sixth century by St. Euadan, 
who presided over 150 monks there, and died in 584, 
when he became patron of the abbey. The abbot 
Cailknie died in 652, and in 708 died the abbot 
Colman Mac Seachnasy ; Columb Mac Faelgusa, called 
the bishop, died in 783, and the abbot Brickine in 
the year 842. In 845, Turgesins with his Norwegians 
set fire to and destroyed " this town," with the 
churches and other religious houses ; but Maolseach- 
lain, King of Meath, having taken him, put an end 
to his sacrilegious crimes, by drowning him in Lough 
Ainin, in Meath. 

The abbot and bishop Dinearlagh died in 864 ; the 
abbot Maolgorgais in 888 ; the abbot Core, son of 
Coinligan, died in 946 ; and in 957 died Moenach, 
" archdeacon or vicar of Lorrah." In 1050, the 
archdeacon Maolduin O'Heigarthy died; the abbot 
Moelmuire O'Scoly died in 1106; and O'Scobaig, 
" comorb of St. Euadan," died in 1108. In the year 
1154, an accidental fire destroyed the abbey ; a like 
calamity occurred in three years afterwards; and 
again in 1179, another conflagration destroyed "this 
town." We have already seen (p. 21) that in 
1207, the castles of Lothra, Birr, and Kinnitty 
were " broken down and destroyed " by Murtagh 

Walter de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, founded in 1269 
a Dominican friary at Lorrah, and in 1301 a general 
chapter of the order was held there. Ware states 
that the hand .of Saint Euadhan, the patron, was 

THE " LOKHA RANGERS " IN 1782. 283 

preserved in a silver case in Lorrah abbey until the 
suppression ; and we learn from the Four Masters, that 
in 1599 " the prior of Lothra, in Ormond, namely, 
John, the son of John, son of Giollapatrick O'Hogan, 
was slain by a party of the O'Kennedys in the 
month of July precisely." Dr. Burke, in the Hibernia 
Dominicana^ informs us that this friary was so com- 
plete in 1688, that a provincial chapter of the order 
was held there, and 150 friars clothed in their proper 
habits, attended on the occasion. It appears, however, 
from the same work, that in the year 1756, being sixty- 
eight years afterwards, there were only two monks 
of the order of St. Dominick at Lorrah; and there 
were then likewise two at Portumna in the vicinity. It 
is remarkable to find two clergymen of the order, still 
in the neighbourhood of Portumna. 

When the Volunteers were being raised in Ireland, 
a corps called " The Lorha Hangers," was formed at 
Lorha. A meeting of this corps Captain "Walsh in 
the chair, and Kobert Purcell, Esq., acting as secre- 
tary was held at Lorha on the 16th of April 1782, 
and the following patriotic resolutions were passed : 

" Eesolved unanimously That the perfect emanci- 
pation of this country ought to be the primary object 
of each individual, and should not only be wished, 
but sought for, by every patriotic and constitutional 

" Eesolved That we conceive it a duty we owe to 
our country, to disavow the authority of any body of 
men to make laws for this independent kingdom, save 

284 "THE FERRY." 

only, the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland ; and 
we pledge ourselves to our brother Volunteers, to 
co-operate with them in every effectual measure, for 
the establishment of our rights on the most permanent 

" Eesolved That we shall be always ready to assist 
our sovereign, against his natural enemies." 

The remains of former ecclesiastical buildings at 
Lorha give, even in late years, a good idea of what 
must have been the extent and grandeur of the place, 
when more than a thousand years ago Turgesius 
destroyed " the town with the churches and other 
religious houses." It must have been grand and 
extensive indeed, even before Walter de Burgh 
founded the friary here, eight hundred years since. 
There are elegant carvings, and several remarkable 
mural slabs and tombs, some belonging to the Mac- 
Egan and 'Kennedy families, yet to be seen at 
Lorha; and altogether this very interesting and 
celebrated place, is well deserving of a visit v The 
residence of the Venerable Archdeacon Knox at 
Lorha is a fine house, beautifully situated, and sur- 
rounded by elegant and well kept gardens and 
pleasure grounds, to which a stranger will be freely 

About two miles from Lorha, on the bank of the 
river Shannon, there is a place still known as " The 
Ferry," from a very ancient ferry formerly kept here. 
This ferry was the principal place for crossing the 
Shannon from Ormond to Connaught, or Connaught to 

" THE FERRY." 285 

Ormond, in former times, and here many persons of 
note with their followers, passed from one side to the 
other. In these past times when bridges were almost 
unknown, a ferry and the proper keeping of it were 
matters of great importance, but the fine bridge now 
over the river Shannon here, leading to Portumna on 
the opposite side, is no doubt a great improvement on 
this ancient " ferry." Again, the facility for getting 
from Birr to Portumna now in less than an hour, by 
the Parsonstown and Portumna Eailway, the station 
of which is near " The Ferry " and the bridge, is much 
more satisfactory than travelling the same route was 
in the year 1620, when, as mentioned (p. 39), Francis 
Morley was obliged to hire a guide to conduct him 
from Birr to Portumna, which journey cost him five 
shillings and eightpence a large sum in the currency 
of the time. In the Irish language the word port 
means " a ferry," as also a port or harbour, a fort or 
garrison. We accordingly find the names of several 
places in the neighbourhood of "The Ferry," com- 
mencing with the word port, as the town of Portumna, 
formerly Port Omna, and Portland on the bank of the 
river Shannon, where are the elegant mansion and 
beautiful demesne of Thomas Butler Sidney^ J.P. 
Higher up the river is the ancient Baile-ui-Eachdach, 
now called Ballyhocter, which formerly belonged to 
O'Kennedy ; and not far from this is Coillte Euadha 
or Eedwood, where are the remains of a castle hereto- 
fore the residence of the MacEgans. At the opposite 
side of Portumna Bridge from Portland, but on the 


same side of the river, is Bellisle, the fine seat of Lord 

About four or five miles from Lorha, and near the 
banks of Lough Derg, is the ancient Tirdaglass, now 
Terryglass. The name of this place seems to be 
derived from the Irish Tir-da-glaif, which means, 
"the land of the two streams." We learn from Mr. 
Archdall and other writers, that St. Columba, the son 
of Crimthan, " founded, and became the first abbot of 
Tirdaglass about the year 548. He died of a pestilence 
in the year 552, on the 13th of December, and his 
festival is observed on that day." 

The abbot Mochoeminus died in 584, and his festi- 
val is observed on the 1st of May ; the abbot Colman 
Stellain died in 625 ; and in 652, the abbot Aihgean 
died. Clemens was abbot in 801, and in the same year 
the town and abbey were destroyed by an accidental 
fire. St. Moyle Dichru, " anachorite " of Tirdaglass, 
"who was usually styled the Sage, and who uttered 
many remarkable prophecies," died in 838. In 842 
the Danes destroyed the fortress of Dunamase in the 
Queen's County, and there slew Hugh MacDuffe 
Dachrich, abbot of Tirdaglass ; and the same year they 
destroyed by fire Tirdaglass, with the abbey and 
churches. Hugh M'Duffe's festival is held on the 
8th of July. In 880, Cormac, " prior of Tirdaglass 
and of Clonfert-Brendan," died ; the " abbot and 
bishop" Maelpeadar MacCuan, died in 890; Mael- 
ciaran, " abbot of Tirdaglass and Clonenagh," died in 
898, and in 927, the abbot Yirgill died during his 


pilgrimage at Borne. In 1014, died Donnghal O'Can- 
tene, " overseer of this monastery " ; in 1112 this 
abbey was destroyed by fire j Tirdaglass was burnt by 
the people of Hy Mainy in 1140, " who with their 
accustomed .barbarity, destroyed the shrine of the 
Saint " ; and in 1162 the abbey was again consumed. 

I It has been mentioned (p. 215), that St. Patrick 
came from Tirdaglass by Lorha, to Brusna near 

Near Tirdaglass is Carrigahorig, which appears to be 
the place referred to by the Four Masters at the year 
1548, as follows : " The Eed Captain (one of the 
Butlers), marched with a force against O'Carroll to 
Carraic-an-Chomhraic, and O'Carroll gave them battle, 
in which he slew two or three score of them. The 
Eed Captain marched at three different times with 
his forces in one quarter of a year to Carraic-an- 
Chomhraic, but he did not succeed in gaining the 
castle, or any part of the country, and was obliged 
to return without obtaining any advantage after 
having sustained much injury, and losing many of his 

The principal families of this part of Ormond were 
the O'KfinnedySj MacEgans, and O'Mearas. The last 
mentioned appear, however, to have been placed more 
south. The territory of O'Ceinneide, O'Cinneididh, 
O'Cineide or O'Xennedy, appears to have extended 
along the Shannon from the neighbourhood of Lorha. 
The O'Kennedys were of the Daleassian race, were 
generally called " Lords of Ormond/' and were very 


powerful from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. 
O'Heerin thus refers to them : 

" O'Kennedy who reddens his spears, 
Rules over the smooth, extensive Glen Omra, 
By his tribe is possessed the brown plains gained by valour ; 
He obtained the land without opposition." 

The following relative to 'the 'Kennedys, merely 
since the English invasion, is taken from the Annals 
of the Four Masters: In 1180, Donal, son of Teige 
O'Cinneididh, " lord of Urmhumha " (Ormond), died ; 
Murogh, son of Awlave O'Kennedy, was killed by 
LoughlinCPKennedy in 1194 ; and Sadhbh, daughter 
of O'Kennedy, died in 1240. The Irish name Sadhbh 
signified " goodness," and is now represented by 
Sabina. Bryan O'Kennedy, "lord of Ormond," was 
treacherously slain by the English in 1371; and in the 
same year, Edmond O'Kennedy, " heir to the lordship 
of Ormond," died. In the year 1382, Donal, son of 
Mahon Dunn O'Kennedy, died ; in 1396, O'Kennedy, 
"lord of Ormond," died; and in 1427, the son of 
Donal, son of Mahon Dunn O'Kennedy, " lord of 
Upper Ormond, was slain by "Walter Tobin, with a 
single cast of a javelin." In 1441, " O'Kennedy Eoe, 
i.e., Koderick, the son of Philip Liath (the gray), lord 
of Ormond ; and Thomas, the son of O'Kennedy Don," 
died. O'Kennedy Fionn (the fair), namely Bryan, the 
son of Donal, died in 1588 ; and Anthony and the 
Giolla Dubh O'Kennedy, being in contention " about 
the lordship," they made peace by dividing it between 
them, and conferring the title upon Anthony. This 


Anthony O'Kennedy Fionn, who was " son of Donogh 
Oge, son of Hugh, son of Awlave of Baile-ui-Eachdach 
in Lower Ormond ( Bally hocter, mentioned p. 285), 
died in November 1599 ; and Giolla Dubh O'Kennedy 
was nominated the O'Kennedy. 

The MacEideadhain or MacEgans, were also chiefs 
having possessions in the neighbourhood of Lorha, in 
Ormond, although their principal seat seems to have 
been at Clan Diarmada in the County Galway. The 
MacEgans, however, did not pride themselves on terri- 
torial possessions alone, for they were distinguished as 
the chief Brehons of Ireland, and hereditary Brehons 
of Munster and Connaught, and they were also re- 
1 nowned for learning and hospitality. O'Dugan thus 
refers to them : 

" Precedence for his valour and fame 
Be given to MacEgan the noble. 
Record him for the activity of his warriors, 
Of his prosperity and great renown, 
The Clan Diarmada north and south 
To place them in my poem is a duty." 

The following extracts from the Four Masters alone, 
since the English invasion of Ireland, are sufficient to 
show how eminent as Brehons, and for learning and 
hospitality, were the MacEgans. In 1309, Giolla-na- 
neev MacEgan, " chief Brehon of Connaught and the 
most learned judge in his time," was killed. The 
Irish name Giolla-na-naomh, which is pronounced 
Giollananeev, signifies " the servant of the saints." 
Maolisa Koe MacEgan, " chief professor of Ireland in 


laws and Brehonism," died in 1317. MacFirbis gives 
the pedigree of the MacEgans from a very early period 
down to this Maolisa Eoe MacEgan, whose name 
" Maolisa " or Maol-Iosa, means, " the servant of 
Jesus." In 1399, Boetius MacEgan of Ormond, who 
was " learned in the laws and in music, and was 
eminent for hospitality," and Giollananeev, son of 
Conor MacEgan, " chief professor of laws," died. The 
young Cosnamack MacEgan, " chief professor in Bre- 
honism " of 0' Conor Faily, was slain " by the sons of 
O'Melaghlin, by an accidental cast of a javelin," in 
1422 ; and in 1430, Fergal MacEgan, " chief Brehon 
of North Connaught, a man learned in the laws and 
sciences, and who kept a house of hospitality for all 
persons who came to his place, died after a well spent 
life." In 1436, died Gillaisa MacEgan, " chief Bre- 
hon to MacWatten, a pious, charitable, and humane 
man, and professor of a school of laws and poetry ; " 
and in 1438, Conor MacEgan, " chief Brehon of Clan- 
rikard," died. Hugh MacEgan died in 1443, " in the 
tide of his prosperity ; and he was the most learned 
and eloquent man of the Irish in his time, and chief 
professor of laws in North Connaught ;" and in the 
same year died Gillananeev MacEgan of Ormond, 
" chief professor of Brehonism in Munster, a man 
versed in various arts, and who kept a house of general 
hospitality ; " while in 1447, Gillananeev MacEgan, 
"chief Brehon and professor of laws in Ireland," 

The Castle of Annameadle, near Toomavara, appears 


to have been the chief seat of this ancient family in 
Ormond, but we find Dionysius MacEgan living in 
1602, in the Castle of Coillte Euadha, or "Kedwood" 
as the place is still named, coillte being Irish for a wood, 
and ruadha signifying red(see p. 285). Even within late 
years Darius John MacEgan, solicitor, the representa- 
tive of this branch of the MacEgans they appear 
even yet to have a taste for the profession of laws, in 
which they were so eminent held in the neighbour- 
hood of Redwood a portion of their former possessions, 
yet known as Ballymacegan, " the town of MacEgan," 
and he is still the owner in fee of Ballyoughter, 
within five miles of Lorha Abbey, the burial place of 
the family. 

The Brehons having been so often alluded to in 
connexion with the MacEgans, a few observations as 
to the nature of Brehonism may be acceptable to 
some of our readers. The Irish term Breitheamh, from 
which comes Brehon, signifies a Judge, the Brehons 
having been judges and professors of the law, who in 
former times proclaimed the laws, and delivered judg- 
ments to the chiefs and people. This was generally 
done on hills and raths on public occasions. Brehon- 
ism and Bardism, as well as Druidism, prevailed in 
Ireland from the earliest times, but the introduction 
of Christianity caused the Druids, or pagan priests, to 
disappear, while Bards and Brehons were still found 
in Christian, as well as in pagan times. Many of these 
ancient Brehons flourished from the first to the eighth 
century, and perfected a code of laws which, from their 


spirit of equity, were called Breithe Neimhidh, which 
signifies " Celestial Judgments." Moran, son of the 
King of Ireland in the first century, was one of the 
most eminent of these Brehons, and he is represented 
in his office of chief judge of Ireland, wearing on his 
neck a golden ornament called lodhan Morain } or 
" Moran's collar," which is said to have pressed tightly 
on the neck of the wearer, and to have nearly choked 
him if he attempted to pronounce an unjust judgment. 
The Brehons presided at the inauguration of kings, 
princes, and chiefs, and as judges and exponents of 
the laws they had much power in the country, and 
considerable portions of land were assigned for their 
use. Each of the Irish princes and chiefs of note 
had his own Brehon, the office being hereditary in 
some families, as the MacEgans, who were hereditary 
Brehons in Connaught, in Leinster, and in Ormond, 
and it has been seen that several of them were also 
chief Brehons of Ireland. 

In a note to the translation of the Annals of Clon- 
macnoise, where the death of Maolisa Eoe MacEgan 
(there called Maceigan), who died in 1317, is men- 
tioned, Mageoghegan, in reference to the office of 
Brehon, states as follows : " This Fenechus, or 
Brehon Lawe, is none other but the civil law, which the 
Brehons had to themselves in an obscure and unknown 
language, which none could understand except those 
that studied in the open schooles they had. Some were 
judges, and others were admitted to plead as barristers, 
and for their fees, costs, and all, received the eleventh 


part of the thing in demand of the party for whom it 
was ordered ; the loser paid no costes." And again : 
" Every contrey had its peculiar Brehon dwelling 
within itself that had power to decide the causes of 
that contrey, and to maintain their controversies 
against their neighbour contreys, by which they held 
their lands of the Lord of the contrey where they 

To return to the old Irish families of this part of 
Ormond. The country of the O'Mearas, as already 
mentioned, appears to have been more south than 
Lorha, and probably extended to the Silver Mines and 
the village of Toomavara. O'Heerin refers to O'Meara 
as follows: 

" O'Meara, who is a goodly prince, 

The chief of Hy Fahy, obtained extensive lands, 
And the Hy Nialls of the race of Eogan the Fair, 
All the lions whom I enumerate." 

The present name, Toomavara, is formed from the 
Irish Tuaim-ui-Mheadhra, or according to Mr. Seward's 
Topographia Hibernica, Twamywharra, which names 
signify " the tomb of O'Meara." This place was also 
called Toome, and Mr. Archdall says there was here a 
priory of Eegular Canons, " dedicated to Saint Donan, 
although others give it to the Virgin Mary," and that 
it was a cell to Inchnemeo. In 1325, " the guardian 
of the house of the Blessed Virgin of Thome, or 
Theym, was sued by the Prior of Conall for the 
advowson of the church of Athenemedele" now 
Annameadle, in Ormond. The Priory of Toome was 



secularized by King Henry VIII., but was afterwards 
dissolved by Queen Elizabeth ; and on the 30th of 
December, in the 28th year of her reign, it was 
granted for 21 years to !M[ile^Magrath, Archbishop of 
Cashel. The north part of Toome was granted to 
f Eobert Gole, the 29th of January, in the 18th year of 
Charles II., and the castle, abbey, town, and houses 
of Toome, the abbey lands and various other lands, 
were granted to John Dawson, the 17th of August, in 
the same year. 



IT would be wrong to leave Ormond without at least 
a few observations on the early history of the town of 
Nenagh, the capital of Lower Ormond, and one of the 
best and finest towns in Ireland. It is clear, how- 
ever, that anything like a full history of ancient 
Nenagh would require a considerable volume in itself, 
and would altogether exceed the space which could be 
devoted to it here. There has likewise been a good 
deal already written by others concerning this town, 
which can be referred to by those desirous of going 
more fully into the subject. What is here written as 
to Nenagh is intended, therefore, for such only as may 
not have an opportunity of learning elsewhere even so 
much of the past history of this fine old town. 

The name Nenagh seems derived from the Irish 
aonach, which signifies a fair or an assembly. It has 
been seen in the account of Birr (p. 20), that previous 
to the year 1200, King Henry II. bestowed the 


country of the O'Carrolls, and the neighbouring 
country of the O'Kennedy's and others, on Theobald 
Walter, or Fitz Walter, and Philip de Worcester, and 
that the former subsequently granted a part of Ely 
0' Carroll, including "villain de Birre," the town of 
Birr, to Hugh de Hose, or Hussy. It further appears 
from Carte's Ormond, and from an ancient charter of 
the time of King John, that this Theobald Walter, in 
the year 1200, possessed "five cantreds and a half" 
of land in Munster, including the cantreds of Ely 
O'Carroll and Owermonth, or Owermond, which means 
Ormond, " with judgment or trial by water or fire 
ordeal, and by duel or combat." This Theobald 
Walter, who accompanied Henry II. to Ireland in 
1171, was also appointed "Chief Butler" of that 
kingdom, which office was afterwards confirmed to 
him by Prince John. In A View of the Legal Insti- 
tutions, fyc., <$fc., of Ireland, Mr. Lynch, in reference to 
the hereditary office of " Chief Butler" and the 
Ormond family, says that Prince John, when confirm- 
ing the incorporation charters of Ireland, reserved a 
privilege, " That out of each ship that thither should 
happen to come, his officer (meaning Lord Theobald, 
who is styled ' Pincerna ' in those charters) might 
choose two hogsheads of wine for his use, for forty 
shillings, that is to say, for twenty shillings each 
hogshead, and nothing more, unless at the pleasure of 
the merchant." 

In 1221, Theobald Fitz Walter, the son of Theobald, 
the first Butler of Ireland, assumed from the office 


which he also held, the name of Le Botiler, or Butler, 
and from thiso ffice also the three covered cups were 
placed on the armorial escutcheon. It is almost un- 
necessary to mention, that in the reign of Edward III., 
James Butler, the descendant of Fitz "Walter, became 
Earl of Ormonde, and that the Most Noble the Marquis 
of Ormonde is now the head of the family. 

On thus getting possession of Ormond, Fitz"Walter 
.^appears to have fixed his residence where Nenagh 
now stands, almost in the centre of it, and he there 
built the castle, the extent and grandeur of which may 
be judged of by the ruins which yet remain. About 
the same time he founded at Tyone, near Nenagh, an 
hospital and priory, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, 
the ruins of which are likewise still to be seen ; and, 
in course of time, a town grew up around the castle, 
and near the priory. It appears, however, from Carte's 
Ormond, that Theobald Fitz Walter was interred in 
the Abbey of Owney, which had also been founded 
by him. It may be more convenient to conclude a 
few observations as to Nenagh Castle, before referring 
to the hospital of St. John. 

It appears from the Pipe Rolls in the Record Tower, 
Dublin Castle, that a considerable sum was charged 
about the year 1287, by "Walter de la Haye, Escheator 
of Ireland, for repairs done by him about the Castle of 
Nanath or Nanach (Nenagh), while in the king's 
hands, during the minority of Theobald, heir of 
Theobald le Boteller. There are charges here made 
for repairing and roofing towers and houses, rebuilding 


a bridge, gates, and palisades, and repairing prisons. 
There is also forty-one pounds charged as paid to the 
Constable of the Castle of Nanach for " warding the 
said castle, " and twenty shillings and four pence as ex- 
pended for "horses coated in mail," for maintaining the 
ward of the said castle, during the war of William de 

The O'Kennedys, it seems, rose against James the 
second Earl of Ormond, but they were defeated, and 
Daniel O'Kennedy, the chief of their sept, was taken 
prisoner, and hanged. Before this was accomplished, 
however, the Irish had effectually banished and rooted 
out from Ormond the descendants of the English, who 
had settled there ; and according to an ancient MS. of the 
Ormonde family, had "razed to the ground the town of 
Nenagh, being then a town-corporate, and all the houses 
and castles in that country, except the Castle of Nenagh, 
which was then strongly guarded by the said James, 
Earl of Ormond." 

In consequence of this state of things, James, the 
third Earl of Ormond, in the reign of Eichard II., 
built the Castle of Gowran, in the County Kilkenny, 
and made it his chief residence. He afterwards, how- 
ever, in the year 1392, purchased from Sir Hugh le 
Despenser considerable estates in Kilkenny, including 
the Castle of Kilkenny, which then became the chief 
seat of the family, as Nenagh Castle had been in 
earlier times. 

During the Wars of the Eoses in England, in the 
fifteenth century, in which some of the Ormond family 


took part, the Castle of Nenagh was lost to them in 
their absence ; and subsequently, by the " Statute of 
Absentees," all the estates of the Earls of Ormond, 
including Nenagh, were resumed into the hands of 
King Henry VIII. The king, however, soon after- 
wards granted by patent to Sir Piers of Ormonde, whom 
he created Earl of Ossory the 23rd of February 1527, 
all the lands in Ireland belonging to the Earldom of 
Ormond, that had been in his (the king's) hands, and, 
amongst others, according to Cartes Ormond, the 
manors, castles, towns, and lands of Thurles, Nenagh, 
and Eoscrea. By virtue of this grant, the Earl of 
Ossory, who was soon afterwards restored to the 
original title of Ormond, recovered the demesne lands 
and Castle of Nenagh. It appears, however, he then 
obtained possession of nothing more, for an inquisition 
taken at Clonmel, in 1547, on the death of James 
Butler, then late Earl of Ormond and Ossory (son of 
Piers), who was poisoned at a supper at Ely House, 
Holborn, finds that on the day of his death he was 
seized in his demesne, as of fee tail, of " the manor of 
Nenagh, in the county aforesaid, and of one castle," 
with some small portions of land in the neighbourhood. 
This inquisition also finds that the " manor of Nenagh 
aforesaid is valued at nothing by the year, because 
waste," which seems to imply that the lands about 
Nenagh, forming part of the manor, were then in the 
possession of Irish, who refused to render suit and ser- 
vice to the lord of the manor for the lands so held by 
them. In truth the Irish, including the O'Kennedys, 


O'Carroll's, MaeEgans, O'Mearas, O'Meaghers, Ma- 
graths, Byans, and others, appear to have continued 
in possession of Upper and Lower Ormond, save the 
demesne lands of the Earl of Ormond, from this time 
until the arrival of Cromwell's forces, nearly one 
hundred years afterwards. 

It has been seen (p. 287), that in 1548, the " Red 
Captain " (supposed to be one of the Eutlers), attacked 
Carraic-an-Chomhraic (Carrigahorig), in 0' Carroll's 
country, and it was probably in return that 0' Carroll, 
according to the Four Masters at the same year, 
"burned the Aonach (N"enagh), both monastery and 
town from the fortress outwards, and on the same 
occasion he burned the monastery of Uaithne (Owney), 
expelled the English therefrom, and confounded them 
very much, and subdued their power and strength so 
much, that he commanded them to quit his country 
(Ormond in Tipperary, which was part of Ely 
0' Carroll), except alone a few guards, which were in 
Nenagh, viz., in the Tower, of the son of Manus." 
Mr. Archdall gives this occurrence as taking place at 
Nenagh two years later, thus : " 1550. In this year 
O'Carvall burnt to the ground both the friary and 
town, but the garrison preserved the castle." 

The ancient fortress or round tower, still so con- 
spicuous in Nenagh, is the " tower " and " castle " so 
often referred to in the foregoing pages. The circular 
keep not to be equalled in size or height by any 
other edifice of the kind in Ireland is the principal 
portion of the grand old building that now remains. 


In front of the keep was the spacious baronial hall, 
and around were massive walls, with four other round 
towers of lesser size, and a lofty portcullised gate. 
This castle was commonly called "Nenagh Bound," 
and must have been well calculated to resist the attacks 
of forces using arrows and battering rams, but when 
gunpowder came well into use, "Nenagh Bound" was 
unable to hold out very long against ordnance placed 
on the heights commanding it. Thus Owen Boe 
O'Neill with the Irish took it in 1641, and it was 
retaken by Lord Inchiquin. In 1651, General Ireton 
besieged the town and forced the garrison to surrender, 
when, according to tradition, he caused the governor 
to be hung out of one of the highest windows of the 
castle. In 1688, Long Anthony 0' Carroll, one of the 
O'Carrolls of Ely, and an active leader under Sarsfield, 
took the place, and for a time made it the centre of his 
operations, although the surrounding walls were bat- 
tered down, the small towers almost levelled, and the 
keep unroofed ; but after a time he abandoned it on the 
approach of General Leveson, having burned the town 
in his retreat, this being the second or third time 
Kenagh was burned by the O'Carrolls. 

This venerable keep, having survived the various 
vicissitudes of war through so many centuries, appears 
to have been threatened with destruction in a more 
inglorious way, within comparatively late years. When 
" Nenagh Bound" became a ruin, and was no longer 
worth contending for, it was soon clothed with a rich 
mantle of ivy, which naturally formed a stronghold 


for a numerous garrison of sparrows. About a cen- 
tury since, one Soloman Newsome had his cabbage 
garden and barley field in the vicinity of this tower, 
whose huge bulk kept the sunshine from the one, 
while the sparrows sallied forth from its ivy covering 
to plunder the other. To put an end to this state of 
things, Newsome at length determined on blowing up 
Fitz Walter's old fortress, and for the purpose exploded 
a barrel of gunpowder under it, making a large breach 
in the walls. "Nenagh Bound" yet stands, how- 
ever, while the humble Soloman Newsome, whose 
territory was probably confined to his barley field and 
cabbage garden, has long since followed the powerful 
and haughty Fitz Walter to the bourn from which 
"no traveller returns.'' How true are the words of 
the poet 

" Pallida mors sequo piilsat pede 
Pauperum tabernas, regumque turres." 

It has been stated that an hospital and a priory 
were founded at Nenagh about the time the castle was 
built there. As to these, we learn from Mr. Archdall 
and the authorities he refers to, and from other 
writers, as follows. About the beginning of the year 
1200 an hospital was founded at Nenagh for Augus- 
tinian Canons, who were constantly to admit the sick 
and infirm. It was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, 
and was usually called Teacheon (Tyone), or St. John's 
House. Theobald Walter, the first Butler of Ireland, 
endowed this hospital of which he was the founder, 
with lands in Keremath and Louthunlauth, and in the 


townlands of Cloncurry, Lefrony, Balnath, and Beel- 
derg, on the conditions, however, according to Mr. 
Archdall, " that the said hospital should support beds 
for the sick, to the number of at least thirteen, at 
their proper cost and charge ; that each sick person 
should have a daily allowance of a loaf and a suffi- 
ciency from the cellar, with a dish of meat from the 
kitchen ; that upon any increase of their revenue they 
should at the same time enlarge the number of their 
canons, so as to make a convent, and they were 
allowed to choose their own prior, and to have fish- 
ponds, pools, and mills on the said lands for them- 
selves and their tenants." 

Thady O'Meara was the last prior, and an inquisi- 
tion taken " on the Monday next before the feast of 
the Nativity," in the fifth year of King Edward VI. 
(1552), finds " that the said Thady was seized of a 
church, belfry, and cemetery, within the precincts of 
the priory ; " also of a water mill and small tower, and 
of several denominations of lands, including 140 acres 
of arable, and 10 acres of pasture, in Ballynegrana- 
naghe, that is Town of the ford of the sun. The 
prior was also found to be seized of several rectories, . 
" appropriated to him and his successors," including ^ 
the following : "Ballyvakre" (Ballymakey), " Kyllaw- 
lenowane " (Cullenwaine, p. 224), " Templeneharry " 
(Templeharry), "Dunkeryn" (Dunkerrin, p. 223), 
" Ballincaslane " (Castletown), "Koskere" (Koscrea, 
p. 128), and " Goynovyne " (Shinrone, p. 186). 

The 28th of September, in the fifth year of Queen 


Elizabeth's reign (1563), this monastery, with its 
appurtenances, and about 700 acres of land, with 
several chief rents, and 16 rectories including those 
already mentioned, were granted for ever to Oliver 
Grace, by homage and fealty only, at the yearly rent 
of thirty-nine pounds and tenpence ; and by an in- 
quisition post-mortem held at Philipstown, the 23rd 
of October 1626, this Oliver Grace was found to have 
been seized of the before-mentioned rectories, with 
their appurtenances, " all of which were parcel of the 
lately dissolved monastery of St. John, near Nenagh, 
in the County Tipperary." 

A friary was founded at Nenagh for Conventual 
Franciscans, in the reign of King Henry III., by one 
of the Butler family, or, according to others, by one of 
the O'Kennedys. This friary was supposed to be one 
of the richest foundations of the Franciscan order in 
this kingdom. In 1344, a provincial chapter was held 
here; the Lord Thomas de Cantwell, "a great and 
munificent benefactor to the friars of this house," was 
interred herein 1352 ; and in 1354, Thomas O'Hogain, 
Bishop of Killaloe, was also interred here. The 
Annals of Nenagh, a valuable historical work, was 
written here by one of the learned friars. 

The 24th of December, in the 30th year of the reign 
of Queen Elizabeth (1588), a lease of this abbey was 
granted to Eobert Collum, for the term of fifty years, 
at the rent, including other grants, of twenty-two 
pounds, seventeen shillings, and eight pence, Irish 


In the Topographia Hibernica y Mr. Seward states 
that near Nenagh, " Brien, son of Mahon Meneny 
O'Brien, in 1370, obtained a complete victory over 
his uncle Turlogh, assisted by the English forces under 
the command of the Earl of Desmond, from which 
battle he obtained the surname of Brien Catha an 
Aonaig, or " Brien of the battle of Nenagh." The 
same writer says that Nenagh was burnt by the Irish 
on St. Stephen' s-day, in the year 1348. 

Nenagh appears to have been a place of considerable 
trade in the middle of the seventeenth century, for we 
find issued there about that time, several of the trades- 
men's tokens, described by Mr. Simon, and which have 
been already referred to (p. 69). One of these Nenagh 
coins has on it, "ROB . HVTCHINSON . OF . NENAGH. 
CLEARK . 1658; " another is similar, except that it bears 
date, " 1659 ; " a third coin is inscribed, " MAVRICE 
THOMAS . OF . NENAGH . 1666 ; " and a fourth has 

" JOSEPH . LVCAS . OF . NEAGHRVNE . MAR . 1668." It 

will be remarked that the town is called " Neaghrune " 
on this last mentioned coin. 

It would be out of place to attempt describing 
modern Nenagh here, the more particularly as it must 
be well known to most of the readers. The names of 
the principal inhabitants and traders of Nenagh, in 
the year 1823, are given (No. 19) in the Appendix. 

In taking leave of Ormond, after this glance at a 
portion of it, a few remarks as to the use and disuse of 
and Mac, in the names of many old Irish families 
here, will be excused. It appears that in former 


306 THE IRISH "MAC" AND "o." 

times, when surnames came into use in Ireland, each 
family or clan was at liberty to assume a surname 
from some particular ancestor, and such name was 
usually taken from one distinguished for valour, 
wisdom, or some other great quality. In this way, 
some prefixed Mac, which originally signified a son, 
but in after times was applied to descendants of the 
same ancestor ; while others prefixed 0, signifying 
a__grandsQnj but afterwards applied to all descend- 
ants. This use of and Mac, was at one time so 
customary, as to suggest the old verse 

" Per 0, atque Mac, veros cognoscis Hibernos 
His duobus demptis, nullus hibernus adest." 

Thus translated : 

f" By Mac and 0, you '11 always know 

True Irishmen, they say ; 
But if they lack both and Mac, 
No Irishmen are they." 

It seems, however, that many old Irish families 
were afterwards forced by English penal laws, either 
|to assume English surnames, or at least to mutilate 
their Irish names, and in this way many a Mac, and an 
>, was dropped. These changes having been generally 
made several centuries ago, it is at present matter of 
taste, whether even those having an admitted right to 
do so, should now again change their names by assum- 
ing an 0, or a Mac. It does not appear, that the adding 
of or Mac to his name in late years, can confer any 

THE IRISH " MAC " AND " 0." 3UT 

superiority, as regards Irish descent, on him who does 
so ; and much less should the want of these, imply 
inferiority in the many genuine and undoubted Irish- 
men of ancient families, who their ancestors having 
lost the or Mac in the way mentioned now prefer 
to leave their names as they were transmitted to 



ON the way from Birr to the neighbouring town of 
Banagher, we pass the little bridge at Cappaneal, close 
to Birr (p. 43). and enter the parish and barony of 
Eglish in ancient Fearcall, the country of the O'Molloys, 
this portion of which is separated from Lower Ormond 
by the Little Brusna river, not far from here. This slip 
of Fearcall is narrow, however, for after proceeding 
through it a mile or so, to near the range of sand- 
hills known here as " the Eidge," we pass into the 
barony of Garrycastle, and at same time into ancient 
Dealbhna Eathra, Delvin Eathra, or Delvin Ahra, the 
country of MacCochlain or MacCoghlan, in the ancient 
Meath. There were several Dealbhna or Delvins, districts 
in Meath, of which Delvin Eathra, the territory of Mac- 
Cochlain, comprised the greater portion of the present 
barony of Garrycastle. This ancient territory was not, 
however, of quite the same extent as the modern barony, 


for the parish of Lusmagh, now included in that barony, 
did not form part of Delvin Eathra or MacCoghlan's 
country, being portion of Siol Amncha, of which here- 
after. The name Dealbhna is taken, according to 
Mr. O'Donovan, from tribes of the Dalcassian race, who 
derived the name from Dealbhaedh, the third son of 
Cas, ancestor of the tribe O'Brian of North Munster. 
The MacCoghlans were chiefs of much importance 
in former times, and the head of the clan is styled by 
an ancient poet, " MacCochlain na Caisleain Ghlegeal" 
which is, "MacCoghlan of the Fair Castles." He is 
thus alluded to by O'Dugan 

"MacCoghlan is the valorous mainstay, 
And prince of delightful Delvin Ahra." 

The MacCoghlans are frequently mentioned in the 
ancient annals, but it will be sufficient to refer here 
to a few of the many notices of them by the Four 
Masters, since the English invasion of Ireland. Thus 
we have already seen (p. 228), that in 1175, " Giolla 
Coluim O'Maolmuaidh (O'Molloy) lord of Ferkale, 
was treacherously slain by Eoderick, son of Conor 
MacCoghlan." In 1199, " Murchadh MacCoghlan, 
lord of Delvin Eathra," died; in 1292, " MacCoghlan 
lord of Delvin More," was slain by Sinn MacFeorais 
(Bermingham),at the instigation of the Earl (of Ulster); 
and in the year 1371, Fergal MacCoghlan died, while 
imprisoned by O'Kennedy. It has been seen (p.163), 
.that Edmond a Faihy, or Fahy, gained a battle in 
Delvin in 1548, and brought the heads of the slain to 


Bally-mac-Adam (Cadamstown). The Four Masters 
say that this battle, in which Cormac MacCoghlan and 
his people were beaten, took place at Bel-atha-na- 
geaorach, the ford of the sheep, on Dubh Abham, the 
black river. This is a small river now called the 
Blackwater, in the barony of Garrycastle, and about 
two miles north of the Greater Brusna river. There 
is much information as to the MacCoghlan and his 
territory, to be found in the Annals of the Four Masters 
under the dates of 1547 and 1548, and thereabouts, 
and some of which will be noticed hereafter, in 
connexion with particular places. These writers also 
mention, that MacCoghlan, lord of Dealbhna Eathra, 
"namely, John, the son of Art, son of Corinac," attended 
Queen Elizabeth's Irish Parliament in Dublin, in 1585. 
It has been seen, however, (p. 265), that notwithstand- 
ing this, MacCoghlan, towards the close of the Irish 
wars in this Queen's reign, joined the O'Connors, 
O'Molloys, and O'Dunns, in the King's County, with 
two hundred men against the Queen. The Four 
Masters, at the year 1590, record the death of this 
John MacCoghlan, and add that " there was not a man 
of his estate, of the race of Cormac Cas, whose mansions, 
castles, and good dwelling houses, were better arranged, 
or more comfortable than his ; and his son, John Oge, 
was appointed his successor." They also state, that at 
the request of O'Neill (Earl of Tyrone), Eedmond 
Burke, Anthony O'Moore and Capt. Tyrrell, proceeded 
to the " northern end of the Slieve Bloom mountains 
to get the Irish of Ormond and Westmeath to join 


them in alliance, namely, O'Mulloy, and Conal the son 
of Cahir; MacCoghlan, i.e. John Oge, the son of John, 
son of Art, son of Cormac, and O'Carroll, namely, 
Calvagh, the son of William Odhar, son of Ferganainm, 
son of Maolroona;" and they add that "although 
these chiefs had been for some time acting on behalf 
of the sovereign, they were better pleased to receive 
peace from those leaders who were traversing every 
country." The foregoing affords an example of the 
custom of the early Irish writers, to identify the par- 
ticular person to whom they referred, by naming his 
father, and perhaps a long line of ancestors. 

The last descendant of this ancient sept, who was 
in any position, appears to have been Thomas Coghlan, 
or MacCoghlan, commonly known as "the Maw," 
who died about the year 1790, after having for many 
years represented the King's County in the Irish 
Parliament. The Chevalier Colonel de Montmorency 
thus describes him: " Thomas Coghlan, Esq., or, in 
attention to local phraseology, 'the Maw' (that is, Mac), 
for he w r as not known or addressed in his own domain 
by any other appellation was a remarkably handsome 
man ; gallant, eccentric ; proud, satirical ; hospitable 
in the extreme, and of expensive habits. In disdain 
of modern times he adhered to the national customs of 
Ireland, and the modes of living practised by his 
ancestors. His house was ever open to strangers. 
His tenants held their lands at will, and paid their rents, 
according to the ancient fashion, partly in kind, and 
the remainder in money. ' The Maw ' levied the fines 

312 "THE RIDGE." 

of mortmain when a vassal died. He became heir to 
the defunct farmer ; and no law was admissible, or 
practised, within the precincts of MacCoghlan's domain, 
but such as savoured of the Brehon code. It must be 
observed, however, that most commonly, 'the Maw's' 
commands, enforced by the impressive application of 
his horse- whip, instantly decided a litigated point ! 
From this brief outline, it might be supposed that we 
were talking of Ireland early in the seventeenth century, 
but Mr. Coghlan died not longer back than about the 
year 1790. With him perished the rude grandeur of 
his longdrawn line. He died without issue, and 
destitute of any legitimate male representative to 
inherit his name, although most of his followers were 
of the sept of the Coghlans, none of whom, however, 
were strictly qualified, or were suffered by 'the Maw' 
to use the Mac, or to claim any relationship with him- 
self. His great estate at his decease passed to the son of 
his sister, the late Right Hon. Denis Bowes Daly, of 
Daly's-town County of Galway, who likewise had no 
children, and who, shortly before his death in 1821, sold 
the MacCoghlan estate to divers persons." To judge 
by this account of "the Maw," his astonishment and 
indignation would be great indeed, could he revisit his 
broad domain and witness the changes since made there, 
and find the Justices of the various Petty Sessions 
Courts now in his ancient territory, sitting under the 
modern Petty Sessions Act. 

Having referred so far to the ancient Dealbhna 
Eathra and MacCoghlan, we return to "the Ridge," 


near which this district is entered, on the way from 
Birr to Banagher. The line of sand-hills from which 
"the Eidge" is so called, is a very remarkable one. 
It extends almost without interruption, from beyond 
Philipstown to here, and thence through Lusmagh to 
the river Shannon, and these sand-hills again appear in 
the County Galway, on the opposite bank of the river. 
This is not the place to discuss as to how or when this 
line of sand-hills originated. It must, however, have 
been from the action of water, and of course at a very 
early period. 

Not far beyond " the Eidge" is the place called 
the "Eapemills," half way between Birr and Banagher, 
and where, about forty years ago, a remarkable and 
fatal event took place. At that time a fire-ball or 
meteoric stone, somewhat similar to the one which 
fell at Cloneen in 1827, (p. 243), descended upon the 
mill from which this place derives its modern name, 
and having broken through the roof, blew out the 
windows, threw down the lofts, and killed Mr. Woods 
the proprietor, who happened to be there at the time. 
The neighbourhood of the " Eapemills " was also re- 
markable for the appearance there, in the year 1830, 
of white magpies birds very uncommon in Ireland. 
It seems that even the common magpie was not 
known in Ireland a century ago. It was called pianet, 
and in Irish maggidipye. Even at the present day 
magpies are numerous in this neighbourhood. A 
small river sinks into the earth here in a very remark- 
able way, rising again at a considerable distance. 


This is worth inspection by those who take an interest 
in such matters. 

The road from Birr to Banagher here passes 
through the celebrated townland of Ballaghanoher, 
formerly Bel-atha-an-Fhothair, where, as mentioned 
(p. 22), Eoghan O'Madden "the Lion of Birra," 
defeated the men of Ormond in a battle. The reader 
will find more as to this O'Madden further on, in con- 
nexion with Lusmagh. The Four Masters also 
mention, at the year 1548, that "the lieutenant and 
the English," marched into Delvin, and " burned and 
plundered from Bealach-an-Fothair to Tochar, and 
also the town of MacHuallachan in Lusmagh; they 
remained encamped for a night at Ballynacloiche, and 
returned home on the following day with prey and 
booty, without battle or conflict." Sir Francis 
Bryan, who erected the castle at Philipstown this 
same year (p. 29), was " the lieutenant" here alluded 
to. Tochar appears to have been in Lusmagh ; 
Baile-Mic-TJallachain, "the town of MacHuallachan," 
now Ballymaccoolahan, was an ancient district also 
in Lusmagh ; and Baile-na-Cloiche is at present 
known there, as Coolclough and Ballynacloughe. 

About half a mile from Banagher, at the Birr 
side, are the remains of the castle called in former 
times Garrdha-an-caislein, (Garrancashlane), that is, 
" garden of the castle," from which the name Garry- 
castle seems to have been formed and applied to the 
barony. There is not much known as to the past 
history of this castle, unless that it was one of the 


principal strongholds of MacCoghlan. The Four 
Masters call it Caislen-an-Fothair at the year 1517, 
where they relate that " a great commotion " having 
arisen between Maolroona O'Carroll and the people of 
Delvin, "they and O'Melaghlin having invited the 
Earl (of Kildare) to aid them, they destroyed the 
castle of Fothair of Delvin, namely, the wall of the 
castle." It appears from this that Ballaghanoher, or 
13ealach-an-Fothair, then extended to this castle, and 
that the castle must have been held at the time 
by O'Carroll, with whom the Delvinians were in 

The well-known town of Banagher which, accord- 
ing to the adage, could " bang " even his sable majesty 
heretofore, is placed on the side of a long hill sloping 
down to the river Shannon which flows by the town. 
Banagher is about six miles north-west from Birr, in 
the parish of Eeynach or Eeynagh, and barony of 
Garry castle. The old name of the town was Beandcor, 
which seems to have originated from the hill on which 
it stands, Beannchor meaning a pointed hill. There 
are other derivations also given for the name Banagher. 
It is called " Bannogh " on Mer cater* s Atlas, published 
in 1623, and was likewise known, more lately, as 
Fortfalkland. The parish derived its name from Saint 
Eeynach, Eegnacia, or Eignacia, sister of Saint Finian, 
who presided at Clonard and died in 563, having 
founded here a religious establishment, of which she 
was abbess. The ruins now on the site of this ancient 
house, which was called Kill-Eignaighe, " the church 


of Eignacia," are nearly in the centre of Banagher, 
and are surrounded by the parish burial ground. 
The church of Eignacia appears to have been subse- 
quently presided over by Talacia, the mother of Saint 
Finian, who was also abbess there. In the enclosure 
surrounding these ruins, there was for many years the 
shaft of an ancient stone cross, erected to commemorate 
Bishop O'Duffy who was killed in the year 1297, by 
a fall from his horse. It is strange, however, that 
authorities differ as to the diocese of which he was 
bishop, "Ware placing him amongst the bishops of 
Clonmacnoise, while the Four Masters, at the year 
1297, have, "William O'Duffy, bishop of Clonfert, 
fell from his horse, of which fall he died." This very 
interesting relic, on which the bishop is represented 
on horseback, bearing his crozier in his hand, is now 
at Clonmacnoise, and a full account of it will be found 
in the Proceedings, of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society 
for May 1853. ' 

The Four Masters relate that in the year 1539, 
" after Mass on a Sunday, on the second of the Nones 
of July,"FelimMacCoghlan,thesonof Myler, was slain 
at Banagher, here called " Beandchor," by the sons 
of Malachy Godh O'Madden. They also mention at 
the year 1544, that "the castle of Banagher was 
rebuilt by 0' Carroll, i.e., Teigh Caoch, in spite of the 
opposition of the Clan Colman and the O'Maddens, 
who were then in contention with each other." The 
same writers add here, that "in a week after the 
commencement of the rebuilding of Banagher," 


Malachy 0' Madden, "one of the two lords who 
governed Siol Anmcha," was killed by Malachy Godh 
O'Madden. It has been already mentioned that 
Lusmagh, which will be more fully referred to, was 
a portion of Siol Anmcha. 

It does not clearly appear whether the castle called 
Garrdha-an*caslein and Caislen-an-Fothair, and more 
recently Garry castle, is the place also referred to at 
the year 1544, as the " castle of Banagher." However 
this be, the Four Masters again tell us at the year 1548, 
that the castle of Banagher here called ^Binncor;" 
the castle of Moystown, "Magh-Istean; " and " Clochan- 
na-gceapach," were demolished, least they should be 
taken by the English. This last mentioned place 
appears to be Cloghan in Delvin, and not Cloghan 
Castle in Lusmagh distinguished by the name 
Cloghan O'Madden. 

A market to be held in Banagher on Thursdays, was 
granted about the year 1612, to Sir John MacCoghlan, 
Knight, but the day was subsequently changed to 
Monday, and the market is now held on Friday. By 
charter of Charles I., Banagher was constituted 
a corporate town in 1628, the corporation being styled 
" the Sovereign, Burgesses and Free Commons of the 
Borough and Town of Bannacher alias Bannagher," 
and being empowered to send two members to the 
Irish Parliament. This corporation consisted of a 
sovereign and twelve burgesses, with authority to 
admit freemen, and appoint a recorder and other 
officers. The charter also gave power to hold a court 


having considerable jurisdiction, and appointed the 
sovereign a justice of the peace, coroner, and clerk of 
the market, within the borough. There was also 
granted for the use of a schoolmaster in Banagher, 
two hundred acres of arable land, with a quantity of 
wood and moor, which had been granted two years 
before for the schoolmaster of Birr (p. 46). In pur- 
suance with this charter Banagher continued to send 
two representatives to the Irish Parliament until the 
Union, when the right to such representation ceased, 
and neither have any of the corporate offices been 
since filled up. In Pettifs Political Anatomy of 
Ireland, published in 1672, and already referred to 
(p. 71), the "borough of Banagher" is mentioned as 
one of the places in the King's County, which then 
returned two members to the Irish Parliament. Henry 
L'Estrange and Eichard Trench, Esqrs., represented 
the "borough of Banagher" in the year 1758. 

During the civil wars of the 17th century, Banagher 
was a position of importance. It has been seen (p. 62), 
that when Birr Castle surrendered to General Preston 
in January 1643, he advanced upon and took Banagher, 
then called Fortfalkland. Dr. Warner, in his History, 
of the Rebellion and Civil War in Ireland, describes 
what then occurred there, as follows : "There being no 
opposition made to Preston, he sat down before Fort- 
falkland ; a place of strength enough to have held out 
against him, longer than he could have staid in that 
season of the year, and for want of provisions. But 
though those within the place were numerous, yet 


many of them were not serviceable ; and they were all 
much discouraged, by a long and vain expectation of 
succour from the Ministry, which had entirely 
neglected them. It would have been impossible, 
indeed, that they should have so long subsisted as 
they had done, had it not been for the relief which 
was sent them, from time to time, by Lord Clanricarde. 
But as he was himself then surrounded with too many 
difficulties to afford them a prospect of any succour, 
and as Preston had granted an honourable capitulation 
to the garrison at Birr, the besieged were inclined to 
surrender to him, for fear of falling into worse hands. 
Therefore the next day after he came up to Fortfalk- 
land, before any battery was raised, Lord Castlesteward 
the Governor capitulated ; and was to be conveyed 
safe with all his people to the fort of Galway." And 
again as to this occurrence, Dr. Warner continues : 
" I have said that Lord Castlesteward had capitulated 
to be conveyed with all his people to the fort of 
Galway ; and Preston accordingly sent two companies 
with them as a guard. But they were stopped by 
Colonel Bourke, the Catholic Lieutenant General for 
Connaught, who would not permit them to pass 
according to the capitulation ; granting leave only to 
his Lordship, and two or three servants ; and the 
convoys with their charge, were obliged to return 
back, and then to deliver them at the castle of 
Athlone." This siege and surrender of Fortfalkland 
are also mentioned in Playfair's Irish Peerage, under 
the title " Castlesteward." 


By Letters Patent, dated 20th of July in the 21st 
year of the reign of Charles II., (about 1671), 
there were granted to John Blysse, Esq., his heirs 
and assigns for ever, " All the island called Eniskery 
alias Island MacCoghlan, in the barony of Grarrycastle 
and King's County, and also the two ruinous castles of 
Banagher and Belanaley," with portions of several 
denominations of land ; and also " liberty of fishing 
in the river Shannon in the aforesaid barony and 
county." There was then also granted, "a Ferry 
over the river Shannon to pass from the town of 
Banagher in the King's County, to the town and 
lands of Meelick in the County Galway, and, within a 
quarter of a mile of each side of the said river, to 
receive and transport whatsoever men and other 
things are there to be transported, for such and the 
like fees and rewards, as heretofore were received ; to 
keep on said Ferry one or more boats within the 
limits aforesaid, and also the whole and entire Shannon 
aforesaid, from the town of Banagher to the said town 
of Meelick, and within the said space of a quarter of 
a mile on each side of the river." At the annual rent 
for the lands of 40s. sterling, and "for the aforesaid 
ferry over the Shannon," of 5s. sterling. 

It thus appears that this ferry was in use at 
Banagher about the year 1671, and, as there is no 
doubt from what follows, but there was a bridge there 
in 1690, by which Sarsfield frequently passed during 
the war, it seems the ferry was discontinued and the 
old bridge was erected at Banagher, at some period 


between the years 1671 and 1690. The ferry stated 
(p. 284), to have been heretofore over the river 
Shannon near Portumna, continued in use, however, 
to a much later period than the Banagher ferry, for it 
was only in the year 1795, that an Act of Parliament 
was passed reciting that the ferry over the river 
Shannon near the town of Portumna, was attended 
with much delay and inconvenience to travellers, and 
that the building of a bridge there would greatly 
tend to promote agriculture, and be of public utility. 
This Act provided for the appointment of trustees to 
receive subscriptions not exceeding 8000, to purchase 
the rights of those concerned in the ferry, and to erect 
a bridge, with liberty to take certain tolls, half of 
which were to be remitted on fair days. From this 
originated the well known wooden bridge heretofore 
over the river Shannon near Portumna, and which 
was succeeded by the present fine bridge there. 

To return to Banagher. It appears from Harris's 
Life of William ///., that when Sarsfield, about August 
1690, attacked Birr Castle with an Irish army, Lieu- 
tenant General Douglas, Major General Kirk, and Sir 
John Lanier, advanced with a strong army to relieve 
the place, drive Sarsfield beyond the river Shannon, 
and break down the bridge of Banagher to prevent his 
crossing over there again. In consequence of this 
advance Sarsfield again retired beyond the Shannon, 
but according to Mr. Harris, although the principal 
object of General Douglas was to destroy the bridge 
of Banagher, the attempt was found to be too hazardous, 


as the Irish were very strong on the Connaught bank 
of the river, and the bridge was defended by a castle 
and another work, which protected it on two sides. 
This advance by General Douglas has been already 
referred to (p. 84), in connexion with Birr. The 
importance attached to Banagher, in a military point of 
view, was owing, in a great measure, to the pass over 
the river Shannon here by this old bridge, which 
preceded the present elegant bridge there, and which 
passage was frequently the subject of contention. This 
old bridge on several occasions afforded a safe passage 
to the brave Sarsfield either for advance or retreat. 
The town and fort of Banagher were generally held 
by the Irish, who at times marched thence to assail 
the English garrison in Birr, by whom, as has been 
seen (p. 87), they were occasionally attacked in turn. 
A Masonic Lodge, No. 306, was founded in 
Banagher about the middle of the last century. The 
warrant, which is dated the 2nd of November 1758, 
was granted by "the Eight Honourable the Earl of 
Drogheda, Grand Master of the Lodges of Freemasons 
in the Kingdom of Ireland, and the Worshipful John 
Bury, Esquire, Deputy Grand Master," to " David 
Thompson, Benjamin "Woods, and Eliazer Simmons, 
to be Master and Wardens of a Lodge of Free and 
Accepted Masons to be held by them and their successors 
lawfully admitted in the said Lodge for ever." A 
new warrant, with the same tfumber, was granted in 
1820. A Eoyal Arch warrant and a Knight Templar's 
warrant, were also held by the Banagher Lodge. The 


original warrant, with the archives of the Lodge, are 
in charge of Captain Carteret A. Armstrong, J.P., of 
Mount Carteret, Banagher, pending the re-establish- 
ment of the Lodge, which has been in abeyance for 
some years. 

There are several mural slabs referring to the 
Armstrong family, in the part of the old church at 
Banagher now used as the family vault. One of these 
bears date October 1680, and according to the inscrip- 
tion, marks the place where "lyeth the body of Grisell 
Armstrong;" and on another is, "Armstrong 4 Brothers 
1700." At the entrance of the vault there is a stone 
with the family arms and motto, and an inscription 
stating that this is the resting place of the Armstrongs 
of Garrycastle and its Bal Iver branch. This old and 
respectable family, so long and intimately connected 
with Banagher, is of Scottish Border extraction, but 
Thomas Armstrong, one of the family, having been 
taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester, in September 
1651, came to Ireland on his release, and settled at 
Banagher. He was several times sovereign of that 
town then considered a very honourable office and 
he is said to have been a liberal contributor, about the 
year 1686, towards the building or alteration of the 
old bridge of Banagher. 

The reader will excuse a short explanation as to 
the use of the rather uncommon name Bigo or Bigoe, 
by the Armstrong family, and by other respectable 
families about Banagher. It has been seen (p. 41), 
that the celebrated glass works formerly near Birr, 


were carried on by Abraham Bigo for a few years from 
1623. The family of Bigo were originally from 
Lorraine. They were Huguenots, and having taken 
refuge in England when their country was troubled, 
they subsequently came to Ireland and settled in the 
King's County. This family was said to have been 
' allied to the Eoyal family of France, and appears to 
have enjoyed there a monopoly in the manufacture of 
glass, the knowledge of which art they turned to account 
on coming to Ireland, where it seems not much was 
known about it at the time. Thus, besides the Birr 
works carried on by Abraham Bigo for awhile, Philip 
Bigo, another of the family, subsequently in the reign 
of Charles II., obtained grants of land at several 
places, including Ballyneshragh, Carrowmore, "Fed- 
dane," and Newtown, in Lusmagh, and according to 
tradition, he also established glass-works in some of 
these places, although no traces of such works have 
been met with in recent years. This Philip Bigo was 
HighSheriff of the King's County about 1662.andfrom 
him are descended, on the female side, the Armstrongs 
of Garrycastle, Buchanans of Ballycumber, and Eyres 
of Eyrecourt Castle. It is not strange, therefore, to 
find the name Bigo or Bigoe yet retained amongst 
several respectable families in the neighbourhood. 
The Armstrongs were also connected by marriage with 
Thomas CoghlanEsq., "the Maw," already referred to, 
and about the year 1760, some of the family were 
settled in the house at Garrycastle, not far from the 
ruins of MacCoghlan's old castle. 


The Protestant Church at Banagher was erected 
about the year 1829, at an expense of considerably 
over 2000. It is a handsome building, in the old 
English style of architecture, and, being placed on the 
highest point of the hill over the town, the fine spire 
is a conspicuous object for several miles around. 

It is almost unnecessary to refer here to the well 
known fair of Banagher, which, commencing on the 
15th of September each year, continues for several 
days, infusing new life into the old town. Yet, these 
occasions are few and far between, and it is to be 
regretted, that Banagher a town of importance so 
long ago, when other places which are towns now were 
unknown should have been suffered to decline so 
much in late years. 

To judge by appearances, however, this ancient 
town is emerging from its decayed state, to rank 
amongst other more favoured places. The fine new 
distillery lately erected near Banagher, where a 
distillery formerly stood, has already been of great 
service to the town by causing an expenditure of nearly 
one thousand pounds per month, during the several 
months it was in course of erection. This undertaking, 
carried on principally by the aid of English capital, 
not only promises great additional advantages to 
Banagher and the neighbourhood, but likewise affords 
an example of English confidence in an Irish enterprise; 
and proves how possible it is for men of each country, 
to work together for the common advantage. The 
Banagher distillery seems intended for the adoption 


of the most recent improvements, to such an extent as 
to place it in the front rank of similar undertakings, 
where a large manufacture of a good article, at the 
lowest cost of production, is of the greatest importance 
to the proprietary, and indeed to the public. It is 
calculated that the expense of erection, with plant and 
machinery, will be 65,000, and that the distillery 
will be capable of manufacturing about 600,000 proof 
gallons of whiskey per annum. This of course will 
afford great employment, not only in the distillery, but 
likewise in the surrounding bogs where fuel is to be 

The beautiful gothic tower and spire lately erected 
to the Eoman Catholic Church of Banagher, at an 
outlay of about 11 00, show what the people of this 
hitherto neglected town can do. This tower and 
spire, with the elegant cut stone entrance and windows, 
and rich gilt cross surmounting all, would be ornamental 
to any town, and are creditable alike to all concerned, 
including the Eeverend Kieran Egan, the respected 
Parish Priest, William Hague, Esq., the architect, and 
the builder, Mr. Patrick Sheridan, of Birr. 

The re-establishment in Cuba House near the town, 
of the long celebrated Eoyal School founded in 1628, 
as mentioned (p. 318), must likewise be a great advan- 
tage to Banagher and surrounding country. This fine 
mansion called Cuba House, which is such an ornament 
to the neighbourhood, appears to have been originally 
erected by one of the Eraser family, who had consider, 
able property about Banagher heretofore. 


When, with these and other good prospects, the 
Branch Railway from Clara is completed to Banagher, 
as intended ; and steamers in connexion with it, ply up 
and down the noble Shannon flowing by which, let 
us hope, will soon be kept within proper limits, and 
not be allowed through neglect, to lay waste the adjoin- 
ing lands Banagher will then, indeed, be on the way 
to prosperity again. 

The names of the principal inhabitants and traders 
of Banagher, in the year 1823, will be found (No. 20) 
in the Appendix. 



As already mentioned, we find Mac Coghlan, lord of 
Delvin Eathra, alluded to by an ancient poet as 
" Mac Coghlan of the Fair Castles," and we have 
seen the Four Masters at the year 1590, in referring 
to John Mac Coghlan that died that year, state, 
" there was not a man of his estate, of the race of 
Cormac Cas, whose mansions, castles, and good dwel- 
ling-houses were better arranged, or more comfortable 
than his." But even long before this, these writers 
refer to "Mac Coghlan of the Castles," for at the 
year 1249, in mentioning the death of Donogh 
O'Gillpatrick who was killed by the English, they 
have the following curious passage. " This Donogh 
was one of the three Irishmen who committed the 


greatest number of depredations on the English : and 
these three were Conor O'Melaghlin, Conor Mac 
Coghlan of the Castles, and the before mentioned 
Donogh, who was in the habit of reconnoitring the 
market towns (of the English), by visiting them in 
the different characters of a beggar, a carpenter, a 
turner, an artist, or a pedlar, as recorded in the 
following verse : 

" He is now a carpenter, or a turner, 

Now a man of books or learned poet, 
In good wines and hides, a dealer sometimes ; 
Everything by turns as suits his purpose." 

O'MeJgghlins^ who are frequently mentioned 
in connexion with the Mac Coghlans, were called 
kings, and often princes, of Meath, and their territory 
came close to that of Mac Coghlan. These clans were 
sometimes in alliance, and at other times in contention, 
as in 1290 when, as the Four Masters tell us, " Carbry 
O'Melaghlin, king of Meath, the most valiant young 
warrior in Ireland in his time, was slain by Mac 

Many of Mac Coghlan' s celebrated castles and 
strongholds, were in the country around Cloghan in 
Delvin the present little town of Cloghan, about 
seven miles north from Birr. This place was known 
as Cloghan-na-gcaorach, that is, Cloghan, or the stony 
place, "of the sheep," and the neighbourhood, parti- 
cularly Cloghan Hill, is still celebrated for the rearing 
of sheep. The Four Masters inform us that the 


castle here was one of those destroyed in 1548, least 
it should be taken by the English. The ruins of the 
ancient church, and the holy wells of Kilcamin, are 
near Cloghan. This church was founded by St. 
Camin, probably the same that founded the church of 
Inis-celtre, or Holy Island, in Lough Deargh. The 
ruins of Killowney Church are likewise near Cloghan, 
on the road to Ferbane. Cloghan was heretofore, 
even in comparatively late years, a place of much 
more importance than it is at present. It was on the 
high road from Dublin to Galway, and there was a 
well-known inn there, called " The Coghlan's Arms," 
which was established in 1769. There was also a 
manorial court presided over by a seneschal, held in 

The Castle of Clonoony, which deserves more than 
a mere local interest, is about a mile west from 
Cloghan, and eight miles north of Birr. This castle 
is still in pretty good preservation, although probably 
erected in the reign of Henry VIII., which began in 
1509, as it appears to belong to that period. At all 
events there was a castle here in 1519, for in that 
year, according to the Four Masters, "A great contest 
arose in Delvin between the tribe of Fergal Mac 
Coghlan and the tribe of Donal, in which James Mac 
Coghlan, prior of Gallen, and heir presumptive of 
Delvin Eathra, was killed by the diot of a ball 
from the Castle of Cluan Damhna." This, as Dr. 
O'Donovan properly remarks, was the correct original 
name of Clonoony. The name, therefore, shows that 


this place was in remote times the residence of the 
heir apparent to the princes of the district, chain 
signifying a plain or a retired place, and damkna a 
person eligible to become successor to the prince, 
which it seems the " prior of Gallen " was at the time 
of this occurrence. The curious expression here 
rendered in English, " shot of a ball," may be fre- 
quently found in the Irish Annals for some years 
after the introduction of fire-arms into Ireland in 
1489, when the first muskets were brought to Dublin 
from Germany. The expression appears to have been 
used, to distinguish a bullet fired from a gun, from 
any other kind of missile. 

Clonoony is called " Cluain-Nona " by the Four 
Masters at the year 1553, where they relate the fol- 
lowing remarkable event, which then occurred there : 
" After this a vindictive war arose between Mac 
Coghlan and the descendants of Farrell and O'Molloy, 
during which injuries not easily described were done 
between them. During this war an astonishing exploit 
was performed at Cluain-Nona, namely, a peasant of 
the people of the town acted treacherously towards 
the warders of the Castle, and slew three distinguished 
men of them with a chopping-axe, tied a woman who 
was within, and then took possession of the Castle ; 
and this was a bold achievement for one churl ! " 

Many skeletons, with coin of Queen Elizabeth near 
them, and also several old swords have been found at 
Clonoony, from which it seems probable some well- 
fought actions took place there during that Queen's 


reign. The following seems, however, to be the most 
curious circumstance connected with this place. In 
or about the year 1803 some labourers employed 
raising stones for the building of the barracks or canal 
locks near the Castle, discovered a kind of cave in the 
limestone rock, within about a hundred yards of the 
Castle. In this cave, at a depth of about twelve feet 
under the surface, and beneath a heap of stones appa- 
rently placed there for the purpose of concealment, was 
found a large limestone flag, eight feet long by four 
feet wide, and one foot thick. There then appeared 
underneath the slab, as was said, a coffin cut in the 
solid rock, containing the bones of two persons greatly 
decayed. On this slab was an inscription then per- 
fectly legible, and which was seen and copied by the 
writer of this, many years afterwards. It appears the 
slab is even yet there. The inscription is cut in alto 
relievo on the lower end of the stone, as if reserving 
the upper part for something else. The following is a 
copy : 

" Here under leys Elisabeth and 
Mary Bullyn daughters of Thomas 
Bullyn son of George Bullyn the 
Son of George Bullyn Vicount <" I / r**< fl tfi 
Eochford son of Sr Thomas Bullyn 5 
Erie of Ormond and Willsheere." W ^-^^,^\ 

jkudk < 

From this it appears that the ladies inferred here 
were second cousins of Queen Elizabeth, and grand- 
daughters of George Bullyn, cousin-merman of Anne / ( 
Bullyn, the unfortunate consort of Ijfenry VIII. It i#/- 


is a curious subject, and worthy the* inquiries of the 
antiquary to try and ascertain how these ladies came 
to be interred in this obscure part of the King's 
County, and to determine whether they came to this 
neighbourhood living, or were removed there after 
death. Perhaps their father might have been employed 
here during the wars of his cousin Elizabeth's reign ; 
but the most probable conjecture is, that different 
persons of the name of Bullyn fled to Ireland to escape 
the fury of King Henry YIIL, who, it seems, had the 
whole family attainted. Thus the king at first com- 
pelled the Earl of Ormond to resign his title in favour 
of Thomas Bullyn, but the Earl re-assumed it after- 
wards when the house of Bullyn was attainted. 

In considering the question as to how these ladies 
came to be interred here, it is interesting to find the 
Bullyn family connected by marriage about this time 
with the very respectable families of Lestrange and 
Atkinson, both of which were then settled in the 
King's County. The connexion appears to have 
been as follows : Lieutenant Anthony Atkinson, of 
the Island of Kiltubrid (the " Church of the Well," 
p. 236), married Mary, daughter of Thomas Bath, 
Esq. This Anthony Atkinson, who must have died 
previous to the 9th of October, 1626, as his will was 
proved at that date, had, with other children, a son 
William Atkinson of Cangort, who previous to 1638, 
marriedTSjine, daughter of Bartholomew Peisley, Esq., 
of Puncherstown, in the County Kildare. William 
Atkinson of Cangort, had a son Anthony, also of 


Cangort, who died in 1663 or 1664, his will being 
dated in the first-mentioned, and proved in the latter 
year. This last-mentioned Anthony married Anne, 
daughter of Sir Eobert Newcomen, Bart., by 
his wife Anna Bullyn, or Bullenj kinswoman of 
Queen Elizabeth, and amongst several children 
had a daughter Frances Peisley married to Thomas 
L'Estrange, who, described as " Thomas, son of 
Henry Lestrange, of Moyestown," obtained consi- 
derable grants of land in Garrycastle barony. From 
this alliance the name Peisley was frequently used 
afterwards in the L'Estrange family. It thus appears 
the Bullens were allied with the Atkinson's of Can- 
gort, who are settled in the King's County since the 
reign of Queen Elizabeth, and with the Lestranges 
| of Moystown, which latter place is only a short dis- 
tance from Clonoony where this tomb was discovered. 
Colonels Lestrange and Atkinson who were then 
the representatives of these two respectable old 
families are referred to (p. 116), as being amongst 
the magistrates who took a prominent part in a very 
remarkable proceeding at Birr Quarter Sessions, in 
October, 1828. 

The Parsons family, since their settlement at Birr, 
likewise became connected by marriage with the 
Bullens. Thus, Sir Eobert Newcomen, above stated 
to have married Anna Sullen, had a brother Sir 
Beverley Newcomen, who was drowned at Passage, 
near Waterford, on the 28th of April, 1637, and this 
Sir Beverley left a daughter Catherine, who in the 


following month of August was married to Kichard, 
the eldest son of Sir William Parsons, Bart. Again, 
Sir William Bullyn, K.B., of Blickling, Norfolkshire, 
married Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Butler, 
seventh Earl of Ormond, and by her had several 
children, including the Sir Thomas Bullyn, Earl of 
Wiltshire and Ormond, named on the Clonoony slab ; 
and also including Alice married to Sir Eobert Clere, 
of Ormsby, whose descendant, John Clere of Kilburry's 
daughter Mary was married the 28th of June, 1754, 
to Sir William Parsons, of that period. Hence the 
name Clere sometimes occurs in the Parsons family 
since this alliance. 

To return to Mac Coghlan's " Fair Castles." There 
was likewise a castle of some importance heretofore 
at Moystown, near Clonoony, for we learn from the 
Four Masters that the castle of Magh-Istean, or Moys- 
town, was one of those demolished in 1548 " least 
they should be taken by the English." There was 
also a Castle at Liscloony in this neighbourhood, as 
to which the same writers tell us that in the year 
1556, " the Castle of Lis-Cluaine, in Delvin, was com- 
pleted by Malachy O'Dalachain on the festival of 
Saint Mathew the Evangelist." The monument of 
the O'Dalachain' s is in the old church at Pallas, in 
the County Tipperary, about four miles from Birr. 

The ruins of the Castle of Fadden, sometimes called 
Fedan, are near Bellmount, about two miles north- 
east from Clonoony, and about the same distance 
north from Cloghan. This was likewise a very re- 


markable place in its time. The castle here was 
erected probably towards the end of the reign of 
Henry YIL, or the beginning of the reign of Henry 
VIII., for the Four Masters record that in 1520, 
" Torlogh, the son of Felim Mac Coghlan, lord of 
Delvin Eathra, a man distinguished for wisdom and 
learning, a man of prosperity and great riches, who 
bnilt the castles of Feadan and of Cincoradh, died 
after a well-spent life." The castle of Cincoradh, now 
Kincor, will be referred to hereafter. The same 
writers again inform us, that in the year 1540, "James 
Oge, the son of the prior Mac Coghlan, was treacher- 
ously beheaded by Ceadach O'Melaghlin, in his own 
castle, i.e., Caislean-an-Fheadain, and great destruc- 
tion befel the country on that account. Felim 
O'Melaghlin brought the English and the treasurer 
with him to Delvin; but, however, they could not 
take the castle of Fedan, and they returned home after 
having destroyed a great deal. Donal, the son of 
Ferdorcha Mac Coghlan, chief of his own sept, died 
before James Oge, the son of the prior, had been 
slain." Sir William Brabazon was "the treasurer" 
here alluded to. 

Tisaran, in the neighbourhood with Clonoony, 
Moystown, Liscloony, and Fadden, is also mentioned 
in these annals. Thus it appears that in the year 
1541, "Tessauran, both houses and churches was 
burned and plundered exactly in Lent, by the sons of 
O'Madden, namely Murrough, Breasal, and Cathal." 
As an instance of the retaliative system of these days, 


wo learn from the same authority, that " Fclim 
O'Melaghlin proceeded after that to Clonfert and 
plundered and demolished the great church and monas- 
tery at Clonfert." It is almost unnecessary to men- 
tion, that Clonfert was in O'Madden's country, on the 
opposite side of the river Shannon from Tisaran in 
Mac Coghlan's territory. The contention thus begun 
did not end here, however, for we are informed that 
in 1542, the following year, "the sons of O'Maddon 
marched with their forces to attack the castle of 
Fedan ; they plundered and burned the town, and 
slew Malachy O'Eaighne on that occasion ; the people 
of the country pursued them to Tigh-Sarain (Tisaran), 
but were, however, defeated, and Malachy, the son of 
Edmond Mac Coghlan. David, the son of Fclim, son 
of Donagh, and Torlogh the son of Fergal, son of 
Conor, with many others, were slain on the 4th of 
the Nones of October." 

Again, the Four Masters inform us, that when 
O'Melaghlin and Edmond a Faihi or Fahy, invaded 
Delvin in 1548, " Edmond Fahy encamped before 
the castle of Fedan for the space of eight days, and 
Cormac Mac Coghlan, who was in the castle, was 
compelled to give him hostages, after which he and 
Edmond made a gossipship with each other." It 
appears that Mac Coghlan must have been in hosti- 
lities with the English for some time after this, as we 
are again informed, that in 1551, "A great court was 
hold in Athlone, and Mac Coghlan having repaired 
thither, obtained his pardon, and a patent for his estate, 



\^ L < and Delvin Eathra was put under rent for the king." 
^^Notwithstanding this, however, it seems that in 1554 
" a great Boroimhe (cattle tribute), viz., three hun- 
dred and forty cows, was allotted and levied on Delvin 
Eathra by the Earl of Kildare, as an eraic (fine) for 
(his foster-brother, Eobert Nugent, who was killed by 
Art, the son of Cormac Mac Coghlan." 

The castle of Fadden must have been again taken 
from Mac Coghlan after this, for we find that in the 
year 1557, " The castle of Fadden in Delvin Eathra, 
was taken by a prisoner who was confined in it, and 
he delivered it into the hands of Mac Coghlan, who 
expelled the tribe of Fergal, and hanged the hostages 
on Shrove-Monday, which happened to be the 1st of 
March." At the same year we also learn that, "the 
castle of Eacra was demolished by O'Melaghlin and 
the English of Athlone ; and after that a commotion 
arose between Mac Coghlan and O'Melaghlin." This 
castle which was also called Eoughra, was not far 
from the present Shannon Bridge, a place not very 
remarkable for anything unless a good bridge there 
over the river Shannon, from which the name is taken, 
and some comparatively modern defensive works, to pre- 
vent the passage of the river from the Connaught side. 
It was probably at Shannon Harbour, some four or 
five miles down the river, in the neighbourhood of 
Moystown and Tisaran, that the hostile parties of the 
O'Maddens on one side, and Mac Coghlans and 
O'Melaghlins on the other, usually crossed the 
Shannon. Thus we find Tisaran, where, in 1542, the 


Mac Coghlans overtook the O'Maddenfl on their 
return from Faclden, after having "plundered and 
burned the town," is on the direct way from Fadden 
to Shannon Harbour. In like manner Clonfcrt was 
conveniently situate on the other side in 'Madden' s 
country, for attack by a plundering party from Mao 
Coghlan's territory, crossing the river here. The old 
name of Shannon Harbour was Ath-Crochda, Ath- 
Croichj_ or Ath-Croch, ath signifying a ford, and 
crocliadh a hanging, grief, or vexation. This ford must 
have been much used from an early to a comparatively 
late period, by expeditions crossing the river Shannon 
between Siol Anmcha on the Connaught side, and 
Delvin on the other. Thus, we leam from the Four 
Masters that in 12 G 6, " William Burke marched with 
a force to attack O'Melaghliu ; and many of his men 
were drowned at Ath-Crochda, and he was obliged to 
return without succeeding or gaining hostages." 
Again we are informed by the same writers, that in 
1547, " O'Connor and O'Moore, after some of their 
clans ^had gone for them to Ath-Croich, crossed the 
Shannon, and collected a great force for the purpose 
of taking revenge on the English, who deprived them 
of their estates and properties, and they afterwards 
passed into Leinster." There are several other refer- 
ences to hostile parties having crossed the river here, 
and even so late as the year 1601, when O'Neill, with 
several other Irish chiefs and their army, " were 
expeditiously conveyed across the Shannon at Ath- 
Croch," as already mentioned (p. 1GO). 


There are likewise the ruins of several, once cele- 
brated, abbeys and castles, in the neighbourhood of 
the neat little town of Ferbane, about three miles 
north-east of Cloghan. Ferbane is on the Greater 
Brusna river in the ancient Dealbhna Eathra, and is 
the property of John Gilbert King, Esq., D.L., whose 
elegant seat at Ballylin is about a mile from the 
town. Mr. King represented the King's County in 
Parliament for a considerable time. The ruins of the 
monastery of Gallen, which was also called Galinne 
and Gailenga, are near Ferbane and the river Brusna, 
within the beautiful demesne of Gallen Priory, the 
seat of the Rev. Sir E. Armstrong, Bart. It is almost 
unnecessary to mention that the late respected Sir 
Andrew Armstrong, father of the present Baronet, 
represented the King's County in Parliament for many 
years. Mr. Archdall tells us, that Saint Canoe, or 
Mocanoc, erected near the Brusna river, the "Monas- 
tery of Galinne, in Delbhna M'Cochlain," about the 
year 492, and that Felym M'Croimhain set the abbey 
on fire in 820, and destroyed not only the dwellings, 
but even the church and sanctuary. It appears, how- 
ever, that some emigrants from "Wales afterwards 

oi ifounded a celebrated school here, from which the 

tf t\ 

place acquired its name, gall being Irish for an Eng- 
lishman, or stranger. According to Mr. Archdall and 
the authorities he refers to, this monastery was 
" spoiled and nearly demolished," in the year 949, 
and it was " again destroyed" in 1003. In 1519 it 
met the same fate, while the spoilers visited it again 


in 1531. The Four Masters tell us, that in 1543, 
Eoderick O'Mclaghlin and his kinsmen, " made n 
noetunial attack on Moy Gallon, in Delvin, and burned 
and plundered the plain. They were pursued by 
Malachy Balbh O'Madden, and by Art Mac Coghlan, 
who gave them battle at Gallen, in which Cormac 
O'Melaghlin, the brother of Eoderick, together with 
thirteen men of the chiefs of his people, were slain or 
drowned on that occasion." They also inform us, 
that when Edmond Fahy and O'Melaghlin invaded 
Delvin in 1548, this monastery, and the castles of 
Kinkora and Kilcoman were taken by them, but Mac 
Coghlan soon afterwards retook the castles, and 
expelled Edmond Fahy. 

Mr. Archdall states, however, that "notwithstand- 
ing almost innumerable misfortunes, this monastery 
existed when Colgan, the Franciscan, wrote, at which 
time it belonged to the Canons of Saint Augustin." 
He also tells us, that " the site of this abbey, together 
with the church, cemetery, &c., five cottages and two 
gardens, in the town of Gallen," with several denomi- 
nations of land, and a "moiety of the tithes and 
alterages " of several rectories, including Reynagh 
(Banagher), " parcel of the possession of this abbey 
were granted, 4th June 1612, to Sir Ger. Moore, 
at the annual rent of .3 12s. 2d., who was to main- 
tain a horseman for ever on the same." By Inquisi- 
tion post mortem taken at Birr, the 14th of October 
1619, the then late Yiscount Moore of Drogheda, was 
found to have been seized " of the lately dissolved 


monastery or abbey of Canons of Gallon, and of the 
site, circuit, ambit, and precincts of the same," with 
a moiety of the rectories, &c., and the several denomi- 
nations of land there mentioned. 

The castle of Cincoradh or Kincora, now Kincor, 
was also near Ferbane. It has been stated that this 
castle was erected by Torlogh Mac Coghlan, who died 
in 1520, and the Four Masters likewise tell us, that 
in 1517, " O'Carroll, '.<?., Maolroona, committed great 
depredations in Delvin, and he took and plundered 
the castle of Cinncoradh." It was in retaliation for 
this the Delvinians, the same year, destroyed the 
castle of " Fothair of Delvin " (Garrycastle), as 
mentioned (p. 315). We have already seen that the 
castle of Kincora, and the monastery of Gallen, were 
taken by Edmond Fahy in 1548, but were soon after- 
wards retaken from him. 

At Kilcolgan, also in this neighbourhood, are the 
ruins of the fine baronial residence of the head of the 
Mac Coghlans, in somewhat later and more civilized 
times, than when their numerous fortified castles were 
inhabited. This building appears to have been erected 
about the 17th century. The name Kilcolgan, that 
is, Colgan's Church, originated, according to Mr. 
Archdall, from Saint Colgan having founded in the 
year 580, an abbey here, " in the country of Dealbhna 

The abbey of Gleane or Glin, was on the river 
Brusna, not far from the monastery of Gallen, at the 
place still known as Glinn or Glynn. Mr. Archdall 


tells us, that " Saint Dierinit "built au abbey here, 
which then had the name of Glinnhufann, where his 
festival is observed on the 8th of July ; " and that in 
563, "St. Comgan, whose mother's name was Ethnea, 
succeeded St. Diermit, and died in a respectable old 
age on the 27th of February this year." St. Mur- 
genius, the abbot, died on the 27th of January, but 
the year is uncertain ; Moelmoedoc, a learned scribe of 
"Gleannusen," died in 915; and in 1016, Coemcomrac, 
a professor in this abbey, died. In 1041, the abbey 
was " plundered ; " in 1077, it was " destroyed by 
fire ; " and in 1082, died Conchouran, a professor in 
this abbey. 

Killegally is near Glinn, and as to it we learn from 
Mr. Archdall that St. Trena, Trcnan or Trien, about 
the end of the fifth, or beginning of the sixth century, 
was abbot of Killelga or Kilalga in the territory and 
diocese of Meath. The ruins of several other abbeys 
and castles, of less importance, are yet to be seen in 
this neighbourhood. 

About three miles from Ferbane, on the road to 
Ballycumber, is Lemanaghaii, once a very celebrated 
place, and where are still the ruins of a monastery 
and of a castle. As to this monastery, Mr. Archdall 
informs us, that it was " so called in the map of the 
diocese of Meath, in possession of the bishop, but Sir 
William Petty gives it the name Levanaghane." Mr. 
Archdall also states, that in the year 661, " St. 
Manchan of this monastery died of the plague," and 
that we find another St. Manchan of Loth, who lived 


after this year. The latter was at St. Adamnan's 
Synod in the^year 695. We likewise learn from Mr. 
Archdall, that " Gillebrenyn O'Kocholly, abbot of 
Leithmanchan," died in 1205, and he adds, that when 
he, Mr, Archdall, wrote (1786), " Its ruins may yet, 
though distantly, be seen, being surrounded by a bog 
at present impassable.'' Mr. Seward, in his Topo- 
graphies Ilibernica^ written about the same time, 
describes the situation of this place in just the same 
way. The public road now passes close by the ruins 
at Lemanaghan, Avhich were thus described between 
eighty and ninety years since, as then surrounded by an 
impassable bog. This place has given the name to the 

The very curious and celebrated shrine of St. 
Manchan, was for many years preserved on the altar, 
in the Eoman Catholic Church in that parish. It was 
said to contain the relics of the saint. His friend, the 
late George Petrie, the learned antiquary, informed 
the writer of this work, that he had opened this shrine 
several years before, at Doon, in the neighbourhood, 
then the residence of Mr. Mooney, and that it con- 
tained some black earth and an old chalice. The 
shrine is of a cruciform shape, made of yew, except 
the base, which is of a different timber. It was origi- 
nally covered with silver, and most elaborately orna- 
mented with crosses and bronze figures. It would be 
impossible to fully describe here this very interesting 
shrine, which was constructed probably in the eighth 
or ninth century. 



THE name Lusmagh, seems to signify "the plain of 
herbs." The modern parish of that name, extends in 
a south-west direction from about half a mile of 
13anagher, to within something over a mile of Birr, 
and is bounded on the. south by the Little Brusna 
river, which separates it from Lower Ormond in the 
County Tippcrary. This ancient territory was here- 
tofore a portion of Siol Anmcha or Anmchadha, 
Latinized to Silancia, which comprised the present 
barony of Longford, in the County Galway, with 
the present parish of Lusmagh, now part of the King's 
County. The district took its name from Anmchadli, 
one of the ancient chiefs. Although at the opposite 
side of the river Shannon from the present County 
Galway, Lusmagh was included in that county as 
originally formed, and appears to have so continued, 
as will be seen by what follows, at all events up to 


the middle of the seventeenth century. I3y Inquisition 
taken at Gal way on the llth of August in the year 
1607, it appears the County Gal way then extended to 
the east side of the river Shannon, and was there 
bounded on the south by the "Biver of Brosnagh," 
the present Little Brusna river, which separates Lus- 
magh from Lower Ormond on the south. For this 
reason, although the diocese of Killaloe joins Lusmagh 
on the south, and the diocese of Meath joins it on the 
north, Lusmagh still remains a portion of the diocese 
of Clonfert, in the County Galway on the opposite 
side of the river Shannon, to which it originally be- 

O'Huallachaiu, Mac Uallachain, or O'Hoolaghan, 
afterwards Mac Coulaghan, or O'Coulaghan, and now 
Cuolahan. appears to have been chief of Siol Anmcha, 
of course including Lusmagh, in the early times. 
O'Dugan thus refers to him : 

" A noble chief of lasting fame 
Eules over the plain of the race of Anmcha, 
A valiant rough-fettering warrior, 
Of keen-edged weapons, is O'Hoolahan." 

There are several notices of Mac Uallachain in the 
Irish annals, previous to the English invasion ; and, 
at least once, he is called, " King of Siol Anmchadha." 
Since the English invasion, however, the O'Hoolaghans 
appear to have lost their rank as chieftains, and there 
is little reference to them in the annals ; while in still 
later years the family are found almost entirely on the 


east side of the river Shannon. The Four Masters 
at the year 1182, record the death of "Donal 
O'Huallachain, Archbishop of Minister." 

An Inquisition taken before Sir Charles Coote at 
Kilconnell, the 26th of September 1617, found that 
"Brian M'Cooleghan is seized of fee, of Bally-mac- 
Couligan, and that Hugh M'Cooligan is seized of 
Cogrune; " and this Inquisition also found that several 
others of the family held lands in the neighbourhood. 
Another Inquisition, which was taken at Philipstown 
the 13th of March 1637, found that the then late 
Queen Elizabeth was seized in right of her Crown of 
part of " Bally viccollaghan," the land of Melaghlin 
Duffe M'Donnogh M'Coullaghan " slain in rebellion," 
and also of one quarter of land called " le quarter de 
Cogranc" likewise in Bally viccollaghan, part of the 
possession of John M'Coullaghan, also " slain in 
rebellion." This Inquisition states, that these lands 
were then, 1637, part of the County Galway. Dr. 
'Donovan gives the descent of the family down to 
their progenitor Uallachan, the 15th from Maine Mor ; 
and he again continues it from Carroll Mac Cuolahan, 
who lived towards the end of the sixteenth century, 
to the late Henry Cuolahan of Cogran, who, accord- 
ing to Dr. O'Donovan, was head of the name. Since 
Mr. Henry Cuolahan's death, his brother, Mr. Bigoe 
Armstrong Cuolahan of Cogran, should therefore be 
the chief representative of this ancient family. 

O'Mudagain, or O'Madadhain, anglicised to 
O'Madden, appears to have been chief of Siol Anni- 

348 " THE LIO& Oi 1 BIRRA.'* 

chadhu at a later period than O'Hoolaghan. The 
O'Madagain's were of the race of Clan Colla, and 
took the name from Madudan More, one of their 
ancient chiefs. There are many of this sept referred 
to in the annals, from which we will give a few ex- 
tracts. Thus, in the year 1201, according to the 
Four Masters, " Murrogh 0' Madden, chief of the 
half of Siol Anmchadha, received a wound in his head 
from an arrow, of which he died ; " and in 1235, 
"Madden O'Madden, lord of Siol Anmchadha," died. 
In 1336, Eoghan O'Madden "defeated the clanKickard 
Burke, and many of their people were slain, viz., 
sixty-six in number." This Eoghan O'Madden, who 
was 19th in descent from Eoghan Buac, appears to have 
beerfone of the most remarkable of the O'Maddens. 
The name Eoghan is Latinized Eugenius, and in English 
is Owen. Eoghan O'Madden was chief of Siol Anmcha 
twenty years, and the Four Masters at the year 1347, 
record that " Owen O'Madden, chief of Siol Anmcha, 
died, and was succeeded in the chieftaincy of Siol 
Anmcha by his son Murrogh." The Annals of Clon- 
macnoise have his death at the year 1346. This is 
the " Lion of Birra," who, according to a poem written 
by an ancient poet in his lifetime, and addressed to 
himself, defeated the men of Ormond in battles fought 
at Ballaghanoher (p. 314), in Lusmagh, and at Lorrah. 
This poem gives the pedigree from Eoghan Buac to 
Madugan, and pompously described the Eoghan who 
died in 1347, as "a man with the courage of a true 
lion, the Lion of Birra, with the venom of the serpent, 


the Hawk of the Shannon, a tower which defends the 
frontiers, a Griffin of the race of Conn of the Hundred 
Battles, a large man of slender body, with a skin like 
the blossom of the apple trees, with brown eyebrows, 
black curling hair, long fingers, and a cheek like the 
cherries.'' The poet also compliments Mac "William's 
daughter, " of the fair hand and curling tresses," the 
noblest woman he had seen in his time. She seems 
to have been O'Madden's wife. 

The Four Masters tell us, that Murrogh O'Madden 
(son of Eoghan), "lord of Siol Anmcha, the most 
provident man in his own territory, and of the most 
valiant hand and best government," died in the year 
1451 ; and, in 1479, " The monastery of Meelick was 
founded by O'Madden, on the banks of the Shannon, 
in the diocese of Clonfert, for Franciscan Friars, in 
which he selected his own burial place." In 1556, 
" O'Madden, i.e. John the son of Breasal, lord of Siol 
Anmcha, was slain by Breasal Duv O'Madden, and 
two lords were appointed over Siol Anmcha, namely, 
Breasal Duv and Malachy Modardha." In the year 
15G6, " O'Madden, i.e., Malachy Modardha, the son of 
Malachy, son of Breasal, died; he was learned in 
Latin and Irish, and the most inoifensive of the chiefs 
of Ireland in his time, the defender of his land and 
territory against the invasion of neighbours, the pillar 
of protection of women, of the poor, of the weak and 
destitute ; and he was succeeded by Donal, the son of 
John O'Madden." In the year 1585, this Donal 
O'Madden attended Queen Elizabeth's Irish Parlia- 


ment. The Four Masters also tell us, that in 1595, a 
great commotion arose, in which the O'Maddens were 
engaged, and " Meelick of O'Madden" was taken and 
demolished, and " Clonfert of St. Brendan" was 
plundered and spoiled, Stephen Kerovan or Kirwin, 
the bishop, being taken prisoner. Amongst those 
then engaged, was " Owen Du^, the son of Malachy 
Balv O'Madden, from the district of Lusmagh." 

Cloghan Castle in Lusmagh, was heretofore a strong- 
hold of O'Madden's. It is about three miles south 
from Banagher, situate partly between the Shannon 
and Little Brusna rivers, and is the property of Major 
Grogan Graves, of the 82nd Eegiment. This is one 
of the oldest^ inhabited castles, in, Ireland, and is said 
to have been erected about the time of King John. 
It was generally called " Cloghan O'Madden," although 
it is named "Poghan" on Sir William Petty's maps. 
The following extract given in the Appendix to Tribes 
of Hymanie, from the MS. journal of Sir William 
Russell, Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1595, which is 
now in the British Museum, shows the importance 
attached to this castle nearly 300 years ago, and gives 
some idea of the rough and fierce manners of those 
now long passed times. It is also curious as a 
specimen of the diction and spelling of the period. 
The transaction referred to appears to have taken 
place about the same time as the taking of Meelick, 
&c., above mentioned. 

" Thursdaie, 11 March 159f. From Rathingelduld 
my Lord rode to Cloghan, O'Madden's castle in 


Losmage before which hee encamped, in cominge to 
which we passed through a straight pace (pass) of 4 
miles in length. 0' Madden himself beinge gone out 
in action of rebellion, and had left a ward of his 
principal men in his Castle whoe assoone as they per- 
ceaved my Lord to approach neare, they sett three of 
their houses on fire, which were adioyneinge to the 
Castle, and made shott at vs out of the Castle, which 
hurt two of our suldiers and a boye. And beinge 
sent to by my Lord to yield vpp the Castle to the 
Queene, their answere was to Capten Tho. Lea, that 
if all that came in his Lordship's Companie were 
Deputies, they would not yield, but said they would 
trust to the strength of their Castle, and hoped by to 
morrowe that time that the Deputie and his Companie 
should stand in as great feare, as they then were, in tf 
expectinge, as it should seeme, some ayde to releive \r\\ ' 
them. That night my Lord appointed Capten Izod- 
to keepe a sure watch aboute the said Castle, for that 
a mayne bog was adioyneinge therevnto, and appointed 
the Kearnei with certain soldiers to watch theire, least 
they should make an attempt to escape that way. 
About midnight my L. visited the watch and vnder- 
standinge of some women to be within the Castle, sent 
to them againe, advised them to put forth their women, 
for that hee intended the next morninge to assault the 
Castle with fire and sword, but they refused soe to 
doe, and would not suffer their women to come forth. 
" Fridai 12. My L. continued before the Castle, 
and as preparation was makinge for fire workes to fire 


the Castle, one in Sir "Win. Clarke's companie beinge 
nere the Castle, by making tryall cast vpp a fire brand 
to the topp of the roufe which was covered with 
thatch and presentlie tooke fire, and burned the roufe 
which greatlie dismaide them, wherevpon the alarum 
was stroocke vpp, and whilst our shott plaid at their 
spike holes, a fire was made to the grate and doore 
which smothered many of them, and with all the 
souldiers made a breach in the wall and entered the 
Castle, and took manie of them alive, most of which 
were cast over the walles and soe executed. And soe 
the whole number which were burnd and kild in the 
Castle were fortie sixe persons, besides two women 
and a boye which were saved by my Lords appoint- 

Appended to this account of the capture of "Cloghan 
O'Madden," is a list containing "the names of such 
cheife men as were kilde in the Castle of Cloghan 
O'Madden at ye winninge thereof." Most of those 
named in this list appear to have been of the O'Madden 
family, but there is also in it, "Melaghlin Duffe 
M'Coleghan of Ballymacoleghan, gent. ; Captain of 
shott, and his two sonness." This appears to be the 
person whose property was disposed of in 1637, just 
43 years afterwards, pursuant to an inquisition (p. 347), 
which found that he had been " slain in rebellion." 
Here is a fair example of the manner in which pro- 
perty changed owners in Ireland heretofore. 

The journal from which this account of the capture 
of O'Madden's castle is taken, cannot, it is true, be 


received as an impartial authority as to the particulars, 
although it is sufficient to show, that something of the 
kind then occurred there. There is no doubt but the 
place was attacked more than once, and as some con- 
firmation of history, it may be mentioned, that when 
excavations were being made in front of the castle, 
some years since, several male human skeletons, having 
the appearance of being there a long time, were dug 
up. Some cannon shot were found there at the same 
time, and inside the castle, the bones of a human hand 
in a fine state of preservation, have been found covered 
in the plaster, which was being removed from an 
inner wall. 

In the reign of Charles II., Cloghan Castle, there 
called " Cloghane-castle," and part of Ballymac- 
Coolahan, called "Bally-M'Modlaghan," with several 
other lands, were granted to Garrett Moore, and in 
this grant also, Lusmagh is stated to be in the County 
Galway. There having been reference more than once 
in this work to the O'Moore or Moore family, a few ob- 
servations concerning them will be excused. This family 
claimed to be descended from Rory Oge O'More, or 
O'Morth, the warlike Dynast of the ancient Leix. It is 
true, the grant of Cloghan Castle was to Garrett Moore, 
and not O'Moore, although some of the family after- 
wards used the " ; " but, however it may be as to 
Irish descent, there is no doubt but the family is old 
and respectable. The branch which settled at Cloghan 
Castle, was, more than once, united by marriage with 
the noble house of D'Burgh. On the last occasion 



Colonel Garrett Mooro of Ball Bries, in the County 
Mayo, and Cloghan Castle in the King's County, 
married Margaret D'Burgh, daughter of the sixth 
Earl of Clanrikard, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter 
of Walter, Earl of Ormond. The family was thus 
likewise allied to the noble descendants of Theobald 
Fitzwalter, the first Butler of Ireland, to whom Ely 
0' Carroll including Birr, and Ormond, were granted, 
as already mentioned (pp. 20 and 296). 

The late respected Hubert Butler Moore, of Shannon 
Grove, in the County Galway, was representative of a 
younger branch of the Cloghan Castle family. His 
mother was Maria, Lady Dunboyne, widow of the 
twelfth Baron Dunboyne. Colonel O'Moore, who 
commanded the Clanrikard Chasseurs, at the review 
of the Volunteer Corps at Birr in 1784 (p. 93), was 
uncle to the late Mr. Moore, whose father was adjutant 
in that gallant and patriotic corps. The burial place 
of the family is at Meelick, on the bank of the river 
Shannon opposite Lusmagh, where, as already men- 
tioned, 0' Madden, dynast of Silancia, founded a 
monastery. At the vault of the O'Moore or Moore 
family here, there is a slab with a Latin inscription, 
which in English is, "Here lies Sir John More my 
grandfather who died in the month of May 1631. Also 
here lies Dame Margaret More otherwise De Burgo 
my wife who died in the month of February 1671 
daughter of Eichard Earl of Clanricarde in whose 
memory I Garrett More Colonel in the king's army 
and faithful to the last have caused to be constructed 


tins Tomb in which others of my family are also in- 
terred." It is almost unnecessary to mention, that 
this was the Colonel Garrett Moore, or More, of 
Cloghau Castle, who has been already referred to. 

This castle appears to have been generally held for 
the Irish, during the civil wars of the 17th century, 
and there seems to have been more than one conflict 
during these troubled times, between its defenders 
and the English garrison at Birr. On one occasion, 
after the battle of Aughrim, as mentioned (p. 87), the 
troops from Birr took possession of the fort of Banagher, 
and of Cloghan Castle ; and a garrison, imder the 
command of Lieutenant Archibald Armstrong, was 
then left in the latter place. 



THIS celebrated place is about seventeen miles north 
from Birr, nine or ten miles north from Banagher, 
and about six or seven miles south of Athlone. Access 
to Clonmacnoise, is easy by road from the former, 
and by road or the river Shannon, from either of the 
last named towns. It is almost unnecessary to men- 
tion, that Clonmacnoise is now in the barony of 
Garry castle, and King's County, but, it was not in- 
cluded in that barony, or even in the King's County, 
until a comparatively recent date. 

The ecclesiastical and other antiquarian remains at 
Clonmacnoise, or, as it is popularly but erroneously 
called, " the Seven Churches," are situate in a beau- 
tiful and romantic position, on high ground sloping 
up from the the river Shannon, which runs close by. 


To the thoughtful observer, these ruins present a 
subject well calculated to inspire feelings replete with 
awe, and profound veneration. Here the venerable 
" Eound Towers of other days ; " the magnificent 
stone crosses, fit and lasting emblems of man's salva- 
tion; the litchen painted ruins of walls, which once 
resounded with praises of the Almighty; and the 
surrounding graveyard, studded with memorials of 
kings, prelates, and learned men, long since called 
from this transitory world, and whose ashes now 
mingle in the sod beneath one's feet all these 
remind the visitor, that here he treads upon no 
ordinary soil. Those who have not seen Clonmacnoisc 
already, cannot fail to be well repaid for the trouble 
of a visit ; while he who has been often there, must 
still admit, that the more frequently he sees it, so 
does his admiration increase for this venerable place. 
At different times heretofore, Clonmacnoise was 
known by several other names. Thus, at one time 
it was called Druim Tipraid, which according to some 
writers signifies, "the hill in the centre;" while 
others say it means, " the hill of Tipraid." The king 
of Connaught in the year 779, was named Tipraid, 
and there was also a prince of Hy Fiachra of that 
name ; while the abbot of Clonmacnoise in the year 
927, was likewise named Tipraide. This place was 
also known by the appellations, Cinani, Cluaiia, and 
Clonensis. It was likewise called Dunkeraneusis, 
meaning " the enclosed place of Kiaran ; " as also 
Letherean, and Killoon or " church of the graves." 


It was also known as Artibra, meaning " of the wells," 
of which there are two here, the one dedicated to St. 
Kiaran, the other to St. Fineen. 

In later times, however, the place has been generally 
known as Clonmacnoise, the meaning of which is 
variously explained. Mr. Seward says it signifies, 
"the retirement or resting place of the sons of the 
chiefs, on account of its being the cemetery or burying 
place of a number of the ancient Irish Christian 
kings." It also appears from Ware's Bishops, that 
Clonmacnoise rural Deanery, was more recently still, 
known by the name Ballyloughgort. 

In the ecclesiastical divisions of the country, Clon- 
macnoise was a diocese in itself until the year 1568, 
Avhen it became united to the diocese of Meath. On 
the division of ancient Meath afterwards, into Meath 
and "Westmeath, Clonmacnoise was included in the 
part comprising Westmeath ; and it so continued 
until the year 1688, when, as we are informed, 
" Clonmacnoise and 3000 acres of land, by the 
management and procurement of Mr. Thomas Coghlan, 
through the favour of Dr. Anthony Martin, Bishop of 
Meath, were taken from the barony of Clonlonan in 
"Westmeath, and annexed to the barony of Garrycastle 
in the King's County." 

St. Kieran, son of Bcetius and Dasercha, was called 
" the younger," to distinguish him from St. Kieran 
of Saiger ; and he was also named Macantsaoir, from 
being the son of a carpenter. He was born in the year 
516, and Dermid Mac Gervail, Monarch of Ireland, 


having granted to him ( lonmacnoise and the island of 
All Saints, together with one hundred churches in 
Meath, St. Kieran afterwards transferred the church 
of Clonard to his master St. Finian. and the island to 
St. Domnan ; and in 548, he founded at Clonmacnoise 
a monastery which afterwards became celebrated, and 
the first stone of which, as Lanigan tells us, was laid 
by Dermid's own hands, at the Saint's request. It is 
very remarkable to find several persons named Mac 
Entire, in the neighbourhood of Clonmacnoise, even 
in modern times. 

St. Kieran died on the 9th of September in the 
year 549, and according to the Four Masters^ was 
buried in the " Little Church," at Clonmacnoise. He 
was succeeded at Clonmacnoise by St. Tigcmach, who 
in turn was succeeded by the abbot Oedhlugh, Avho 
died in 551. 

It would be almost impossible to give here all the 
circumstances on record concerning Clonmacnoise, 
after the death of its founder. Even could this be 
done, it would tire, rather than instruct or amuse, 
the general reader, to repeat in full what we Icam of 
alternate endowments and rapine ; building, and 
destruction by fire and sword ; with sacrileges, fol- 
lowed at times, by atonement. Then we have the 
names of at least one hundred bishops, abbots, and 
learned men, belonging to this abbey ; with the dates 
of their deaths, and in many instances, other particulars 
concerning them. Thus, there were about thirty 
bishops of Clonmacnoisc Diocese, merely from the 


English invasion to the Keformation, whose names 
are given us. From all this, the following informa- 
tion is selected, as being sufficient to give our readers 
a fair idea of the early history of Clonmacnoise, and 
of its importance and magnificence, with the changes 
of fortune it was forced to undergo : 

A.D. 569. Died the abbot St. Oen. His slab is 
yet, after the lapse of thirteen centuries, to be seen at 

609. Aid, prince of Orgial, died here in pilgrimage. 

642. Dermot M'Hugh Slaney, king of Meath, 
granted to this abbey in honour of God and St. 
Kieran, the lands of Lyavanchan, to hold rent free 
for ever. 

663. Several abbots, with a great part of the clergy 
at Clonmacnoise, died of the plague during this and 
the two following years. 

719. Clonmacnoise suffered much from fire this 
year, as also in March 751, and again in the years 
773 and 811. 

738. The battle of Athsenaith near Clonmacnoise, 
took place. 

759. The abbot Eonan died. There is a slab at 
Clonmacnoise yet, which is probably his. 

791. On the 20th of February this year, died St. 
Colchuo, surnamed " The Wise." He was supreme 
moderator, and master of the celebrated school of this 
abbey, and he was also " master of all the Scots of 

830. Felym M'Criomthin, king of Cashel, made a 


great slaughter of the clergy of this abbey, and 
destroyed by fire all Clonmacnoise, even to the door 
of the church. 

834. This abbey was plundered by the Danes, who 
again spoiled, and partly burned it, in the year 839. 

840. Felym M'Criomthin, already mentioned, held 
a great convention here, at which were present the 
princes and the principal men of Ireland ; when Niall 
Caille, son of the monarch of Ireland, submitted and 
did homage to Felym. 

841. Clonmacnoise was again plundered, and the 
year following the Danes destroyed by fire the 
churches and religious houses there ; and again in 845, 
under command of Turgesius, they burned the place. 

846. Felym, king of Cashel, again plundered the 
" tearmon lands and houses of St. Kieran," but the 
abbot laid on him his malediction and prayed that his 
reign might speedily end ; the prayer prevailed, as we 
are told ; for king Felym retired from the world the 
following year, underwent a severe penance for his 
sacrilegious crimes, and died towards the close of the 
year, his end being truly exemplary. 

867. Died Martin, a scribe of this abbey. His 
tombstone is at Clonmacnoise yet. 

885. The Four Masters relate that this year, a male 
child only two months old spoke at Craebh-Lairc, (now 
Creevagh near Clonmacnoise) } and said, " Good God." 

891. The abbot Elathmac died. His tombstone is 
at Clonmacnoise yet, and is curious in having on it, 
emblems borrowed from the pagans. 


899. Died the abbot St. Corpreus Crom, or "the 
bent." He was called the head of the religions of 
almost all the Irish of his time. 

901. This year Flan, king of Meath, and the abbot 
Colman M'Aillealla, founded a church here, called the 
" church of the kings." 

918. A great flood reached the causeway of the 
monument of the three crosses. 

924. On the 7th of February, the sage doctor, and 
abbot, Colman M'Aillealla, died full of years and 
honour; he erected the great church where the 
patron saint lies interred. Colman was also abbot 
of Clonard. 

930. The Danes of Dublin this year pillaged the 
abbey, which was also plundered by Ceallaghan, king 
of Cashel. The Dublin Danes again spoiled it in 
935 ; it was plundered again in 940 ; and in 946 it 
was burned by Tomar, a Danish General from Limerick. 
This abbey was also plundered in 951, and again two 
years afterwards by the Danes of Limerick, and the 
Munstermen ; while in 956, it was plundered by the 
people of Ossory. In 957, it was pillaged and con- 
sumed by fire; and again in 960, this abbey suffered 
from sacrilegious hands. 

964. Died the abbot Cormae O'Kellene, who was 
famed for extensive knowledge and exemplary good- 
ness, and who was in general styled, " Bishop of 

969. Tuathal, abbot and bishop, died. There is a 
slab at Clonmacnoise, bearing his name, and which is 


probably his tombstone ; although a scribe of the same 
name, died there in the year 809. 

971. Died Flan O'Moilmihill, professor of divinity 
in this abbey. His tomb is there yet. 

981. On the 16th of January this year, died the 
abbot Dunchad Hua Braoin, who had obtained a great 
reputation for learning and piety. "We are told that 
in order to avoid the appearance of vain glory, he had 
resigned the government of this abbey, in the year 
974, and retired to Armagh, where he shut himself 
up in a small enclosure, and lived " a lowly anachorite" 
until it pleased the Almighty to release him. 

985. The abbey was destroyed by fire this year, 
during the ceremonies on Good Friday. 

992. Died Maelfinnia, abbot. His slab is still at 

994. Odran, a scribe of this abbey, died. His tomb 
is yet there. 

1012. The shrine of St. Kieran was much abused 
by Doncll M'Taloge, but the impious act was not 
suffered to remain long unpunished, for we learn, that 
by the intercession of the saint, his destruction in- 
stantly began, and before the end of the following 
week he slept with his forefathers. The abbey wns 
burned by the Danes this same year, and in three 
years afterwards, it again suffered by a general con- 

1024. Faghtna, a u learned reader and priest of 
Clonmacnoise," and "abbot of all Ireland," died this 
year in Rome, where he had gone on a pilgrimage. 


There is a stone in commemoration of him still at 

1038. The O'Kellys of Hy-Mania, and the people 
of Delvin, fought two battles near Clonmacnoise. 

1044. The abbey was twice plundered this year, 
and on three occasions in 1050. It was also plundered 
in 1060, and again in 1065. 

1073. Connor O'Melaghlin, king of Meath, having 
been slain by his nephew and buried here, his head 
was forcibly taken away on Good Friday, by Turlogh 
O'Brien ; but, as we are told, it was brought back on 
the following Sunday, in a miraculous manner, with 
two collars of gold round the neck. 

1076. The church of this abbey was this year 
robbed by the people of Cnawsan and Brawney, but 
the following year this was amply avenged by Moil- 
seaghlin M'Connor O'Melaghlin. 

1087. The abbot Cormac M'Connamboght, this 
year purchased for ever, the hospital of St. Kieran, 
from O'Melaghlin, king of Meath. 

1088. The celebrated Tigernach O'Braoin, abbot of 
Clonmacnoise and of Kilcoman, died this year. He 
compiled the annals of Ireland, commonly called 
the Annals of Clonmacnoise^ down to this year, 
and was " a wise, learned, and eloquent teacher and 
doctor." These annals commence from several cen- 
turies before Christ, and contain frequent references 
to Greek and Latin authors, with extracts from Irish 
writers who had preceded him. He was interred at 


1090. The abbey was robbed this year by a fleet of 
Munstermen; and was again plundered in 1092. It 
was also plundered in Shrovetide in 1094, by the 
people of Brawney and the O'Kourkes, and was like- 
wise robbed the very same day, by the son of Mac 
Coghlan of Delvin. It was spoiled and sacked in 
1095, and in 1098. 

1100. The shingles and lower end of the wall of 
the great church, by some called M'Dermot's church, 
which were begun by the abbot Cormac M'Connam- 
boght, were completed by the abbot Flathvertagh 
O'Loyngsy. This same year O'Heyne, king of Con- 
naught, was interred in Clonmacnoise. He was called 
Giolla-na-naomh, or " servant of the saint." There 
is a stone at Clonmacnoise, with an Irish inscription 
signifying, "Pray for the true servant of Kiaran," 
which is probably O'Heyne's. 

1106. At this time there was a house for hospi- 
tality at Clonmacnoise, called "the house of the 

1108. The great altar was robbed of the rich vest- 
ments, which king Moilseaghlin had bequeathed to 
this church ; the cup of Donogh M'Flyn ; the silver 
cup, gilt cross, and another jewel, given to the church 
by king Terlaugh ; a silver chalice, with the arms of 
the daughter of Eory O'Connor ; and a silver cup, 
the gift of Ceallagh, primate of Armagh. The clergy 
of the abbey made incessant prayer to God and St. 
Kieran, to enable them to discover the guilty person. 

1111. The abbey was this year plundered by the 


Dailgais of Thomond. This same year Christian 
O'Malone or O'Moeloin, the abbot, presided at a 
council of the clergy and nobility of Meath, at 
Usneach ; in which council, all the petty dioceses of 
that province were reduced to two, Clonmacnoise and 
Clonard. This family of the Malones became great 
benefactors to Clonmacnoise. (Usneach was the old 
name of a hill in the present barony of Eaconrath, 
and County Westmeath. It is said there was formerly 
a great stone here, where the five provinces of the 
kingdom met in council.) 

1113. The Four Masters write that a salmon twelve 
feet long, and twelve hands in breadth, was caught at 
Clonmacnoise this year. 

1115. Murcha O'Maolseachlain this year made an 
offering to God and St. Kieran, of a cup of gold, a 
drinking cup of silver, and a patena of brass, embossed 
with gold. The same year the Momonians plundered 
the abbey. 

1118. Eory 0' Conor, king of Connaught, this year 
died in the abbey, where he had taken the habit of 
the order. 

1120. A silver cup was given to the church of 
Clonmacnoise, by Celsus, Archbishop of Armagh. 

1124. The " Cloictheach " of Clonmacnoise, was 
finished by O'Malone, the successor of St. Kieran. 
(It may be here mentioned, that antiquarians differ as 
to the meaning of the word " cloictheach," some under- 
standing by it a round tower, but from which inter- 
pretation others dissent.) 


1127. Died the abbot Giolla t'riosd O'Moeloin. 
" For wisdom, charity, and piety, he was unequalled 
in the north of Ireland." 

1129. The altar of the great church was this year 
broken open, and plundered of all the jewels belong- 
ing thereto. 

1130. The jewels stolen from the abbey in 1108, 
were this year found with Gille Comhdhan, a Dane of 
Limerick, who was taken by Connor O'Brien, king of 
Minister, and delivered up to the community. We 
are told that he openly confessed, at the time of his 
execution, that he had been at several ports in expec- 
tation of a passage from Ireland, and had remained 
for some time at each ; but, although all the other 
ships left the harbours with fair winds, as soon as any 
vessel he was in set sail, he saw St. Kieran with his 
staff return it back again, and the saint continued to 
do so, until he was taken. 

1133. The abbot was robbed at Clonfinlough by the 
people of Sileanmohy, aided by Connor M'Coghlan ; 
but through the interference of Prince Connor, the 
son of the king, the spoils were returned. (This place, 
now called Clonfanlough, is about a mile and a half 
from Clonmacnoise. Here, on the side of a hill over 
a large lough, there is a remarkable flat rock covered 
with fantastic crosses and other curious symbols, evi- 
dently pagan. They are nearly similar to the figures 
mentioned [p. 8], as having been on the rock formerly 
at Birr.) 

1135. On Easter day, this year, the town of Clon- 


macnoise, with the church of Moriegh O'Duffie, and 
the place called Lisean-abbey, were all consumed by 
an accidental fire. The same year lightning struck 
off the head of the Cloictheach of Clonmacnoise, and 
pierced the Cloictheach of Eoscrea. 

1140. O'Conor, Monarch of Ireland, presented to 
the churches of Clonmacnoise a number of crosses, 
goblets, and chalices of silver, richly ornamented with 
gold ; he distributed amongst the clergy of the abbey, 
his vessels of gold and silver, and his jewels and 
musical instruments ; and at his decease, he bequeathed 
to them 500 ounces of pure gold. 

1153. The people of Brawney, this year brought 
cots and boats to Clonmacnoise, and carried away all 
/ the swine kept in the woods of Faailt for the use of 
J$* the abbey, but the people of Fox^s country (now 
Kilcoursey^ barony, King's County), gave a total over- 
throw to the plunderers. 

1155. The 20th of May this year, Tordelvach 
O'Conor, king of Connaught, Meath, and Breffiny, 
and Monarch of all Ireland, died in his 68th year, and 
was interred at Clonmacnoise near the altar of St. 
Kieran. He bequeathed to the clergy of Ireland, 65 
ounces of gold, and 60 marks of silver, with all his 
jewels, his sword, cup, and shield excepted; and on 
account of his reverence for the patron saint, he 
directed his horse and arms to be deposited in this 

1163. Dermot O'Melaghlin, king of Meath, gave 
to this abbey the lands of Bean-artgaly. 


1164. This year a great fire took place here. 

1167. O'Kelly's church was erected here, by 
Connor O'Xelly and the Ui Maine. 

1170. About this time, money was coined at Clon- 

1198. Koderick O'Conor, king of Ireland, was 
this year interred in the great church, on the north 
side of the high altar. 

1199. Cahall Carragh O'Connor, with the forces of 
William Burke and others, this year plundered the 
" hospitals " of Clonmacnoise ; and the following year 
Meyler, at the head of the English of Leinster, pillaged 
the " town and churches " there. We are informed 
that again, the very year after, the English of Milicke, 
with others, plundered " the church, sanctuary, and 
town of Clonmacnoise," on the feast of St. Gregory ; 
and, although the spoil was very rich, they returned 
next day, and carried away everything that remained, 
including the vestments, books, and chalices of the 
church, with all the provisions of the abbot and monks ; 
and finally, they laid waste all the " gardens and 
houses in the town." The abbey was again plundered 
by William Burke in 1204, three years afterwards. 

1205. An accidental fire consumed forty-seven 
houses, at the place called Lisean Abbey, at Clonmac- 
noise, and this same year Melaghlin O'Melaghlin, 
erected a stone altar in the great church. 

1214. The English erected a castle at Clonmacnoise ; 
and in 1227, the town was set on fire three times, by 
the son of Donell Bregagh O'Melaghlin. 

o A 



1268. The abbot Thomas, sued Thomas, bishop of 
Clonmacnoise, for quantities of land in several places, 
including Clonbonnyn, Clonfada, Kilbegalla, Arnaglog, 
and Tesaya ; (now Clonboniff, Clonfad, Killegally, 
Ardglug and Tissarin, all in Garrycastle barony, and 
some of which have been already referred to). The 
bishop appeared, and replied, that the said Thomas 
was not then abbot, having been deposed. To this 
the abbot rejoined, that he had never been deposed ; 
but the result of the suit is not known. 

1280. About this year Odo, dean of Clonmacnoise, 
re-edified the cathedral or great church, and also 
caused the beautiful doorway, called Odo's door, to 
be made, as the inscription above it testifies. About 
the same year, the Franciscan and Dominican Orders 
were established here. 

1444. Manus McMahon, the king of Orgial, was 
interred at Clonmacnoise. 

1552. The garrison of Athlone pillaged the town 
and abbey of Clonmacnoise, carrying away the plate, 
bells, and ornaments, and not sparing even the church 

The learned Mr. Archdall, in the Monasticon 
Hibernicum, written nearly a century ago, thus con- 
cludes his account of Clonmacnoise : " This monas- 
tery, which belonged to the regular canons of St. 
Augustin, was peculiarly and universally esteemed, 
it was uncommonly extensive, and amazingly enriched 
by various kings and princes ; its landed property 
was so great, and the number of cells and monasteries 


subjected to it so numerous, that almost half of 
Ireland was said to be within the bounds of Clonmac- 
noise. And what was a strong inducement and con- 
tributed much towards enriching this house, it was 
believed, that all persons who were interred in the 
^)^\^holy ground belonging to it, ha4 insured to themselves 
a sjire and immediate ascent to heaven ; many princes 
(it is supposed for this reason) chose this for the 
place of their sepulture ; it was the lona of Ireland ; 
yet notwithstanding the reputed sanctity of this 
monastery, and the high estimation in which it was 
held by all ranks of people, it appears from the fore- 
going history, that the abbey and town were frequently 
plundered, burnt, and destroyed by despoilers of every 
kind, from the unpolished Irish desperado, to the 
empurpled king. The abbey also suffered by the 
hands of the barbarous Ostmen, and not only by them, 
but (with concern do we add), by the English then 
settled in the kingdom, whose errand hither, we 
would wish to think, was to conciliate the affections 
of the people, to unite them in the bonds of friendship, 
and teach them to live like fellow-citizens and subjects; 
instead of this, we are compelled to say, they too 
often joined in the sacrilegious outrages of other 
wicked men, and repeatedly disturbed and despoiled 
the peaceful seminary of Clonmacnoise; sparing neither 
book, vestment, or any other appendage of the sacred 
altar, which belonged to these truly inoffensive men." 
The same writer adds, " At length this abbey which 
was formerly endowed with very large possessions, 


suffered a gradual decline, and in the course of time 
was reduced and despoiled of all its property." 

After these various changes of fortune, and the 
further effects of the unsparing hand of time, during 
centuries since passed away, we come to Clonmacnoise 
of the present day, and there find most conspicuous, 
the two fine round towers known as O'Eourke's and 
McCarthy's towers, the former being 65 J feet, and 
the latter 58 i feet in height. In the enclosed ceme- 

x? O 

tery, containing about two acres, on the verge of 
which these towers stand, the ruins of Temple Dermot, 
the cathedral or "great church," with the "black 
cell" adjoining, first attract attention, and then the 
group of lesser churches around. These latter, as 
when Harris's Ware was published over one hundred 
and thirty years ago, are ten in number ; and they 
are mostly named from their founders. Thus we have 
Temple Killen ; Temple Finian, or McCarthy's church, 
built by McCarthy More; Temple Kelly, built in 
1167, by Connor O'Kelly; Temple Kiaran; Temple 
Bigh or O'Melaghlin's church, built by O'Melaghlin, 
king of Meath ; Temple Doulin ; Temple Hurpan, or 
M'Laffy's church ; Temple Connor, erected by 
O'Connor Dun; Temple Gauney ; and the "Bishop's 
Chapel." The remains of some of these numerous 
churches show some beautiful carving, particularly 
the doors of the cathedral, and above all "Odo's 
door," which Odo, dean of Clonmacnoise, caused to be 
constructed in the year 1280, as already mentioned. 
There are also at Clonmacnoise several elaborately 


carved stone crosses, the principal of which is opposite 
the west door of the cathedral, and is described by 
Mr. Archdall as " a large old cross of one entire stone, 
much defaced by time, on which was some rude carving 
and an inscription in antique and unknown characters." 
In this, however, Mr. Archdall scarcely does justice 
to this beautiful cross, even as it now remains. There 
are likewise here many very curious and interesting 
monumental stones, and sepulchral slabs, some of 
which have been already alluded to, when mentioning 
the deaths of those they commemorate. The shaft of 
the cross in commemoration of Bishop 'Duffy, who 
was killed by a fall from his horse in 1297, and which 
is now also at Clonmacnoise, has been already referred 
to (p. 316), in connexion with Banagher. 

A few hundred yards west of the cemetery are the 
ruins of the castle or bishop's palace, which, erected 
within a kind of rath or earthwork, is well worthy of 
attention. The visitor will here notice a remarkable 
example of the power of gunpowder, as well as of the 
excellence and strength of the mortar used in former 
times; for, a large portion of this building, lifted 
from the foundation, evidently by the force of gun- 
powder, yet stands almost upon one corner, the ancient 
mortar keeping the huge mass together, as if it were 
only one stone. 

In the same direction, and about twice as far more 
as the castle from the cemetery, is St. Kieran's well, 
close by the road from Shannon Bridge to Clonmac- 
noise. The well of St. Fineen is situate a little north 


of the 'Cemetery, towards the river, and is close to 
the latter. The Annals of Clonmacnoise, compiled 
by the abbot .Tigernach, as already stated, inform us 
that a person named Torbaid was comorban of St. 
Patrick previous to the year 758, when his son 
Gorman died on a pilgrimage at the well of St. Fineen 
at Clonmacnoise. Thus we find this well of St. Fineen, 
resorted to for religious purposes, more than 1100 
years ago not very long after the introduction of 
Christianity into Ireland. 

On the opposite side of the churchyard from the 
castle, and at a somewhat greater distance from it, is 
the Reileace Cailleach, a nearly square enclosure the 
fence of which was originally faced with large rough 
stones, and appears to have been of very early date 
indeed. Within this fence or enclosure, was the 
Teampatt CaiUeach, or " Church of the Nuns." The 
remains of this small church, were it only for the 
associations connected with it, would seem to many to 
be even the most interesting portion of the very 
interesting antiquarian remains at Clonmacnoise. But, 
if the " Church of the Nuns " is valuable as a land- 
mark in our history the exact date of erection being 
known it also affords a reliable example of ancient 
Irish ecclesiastical architecture of the period. We 
must, however, let others fully describe, and let our 
readers judge for themselves, the architectural and 
other beauties of Clonmacnoise, it being our task here 
to give a general idea of the early history of the place. 

It appears a religious house for nuns was founded 


very early at Clonmacnoise, and we learn from the 
Four Masters and the Annals of Clonmacnoise, that in 
the year 1026 or 1027, " the pavement from the place 
in Clonmicnoise called the Abbess her gardaine, to 
the heap of stones of the three crosses, was made by 
Breassal Conalleaghe." We are also informed by the 
same authority that in 1167, " the church of the nuns 
at Cluain-mic-noise, was finished by Dearvorgail, 
daughter of Morrogh O'Melaghlin." According to 
other writers, however, the church of this nunnery, 
" with the houses in the church yard," having been 
consumed by an accidental fire, the church was rebuilt 
in 1070, by Dearvorgail. We likewise learn on good 
authority, that in 1195, Pope Celestine III., confirmed 
the church of St. Mary here, and its possessions, to 
the nunnery of Clonard. 

Most of our readers will recognise in Dearvorgail, 
also called Dervorgilla, and Dearbhorgil, by whom 
this church was thus finished in 1167, the wife of 
O'Rourke, Prince of Brefney, to whose elopement 
with Dermot Mac Murrough is attributed the Anglo- 
Norman invasion of Ireland. We are told by 
O'Halloran, that "The king of Leinster had long 
conceived a violent affection for Dearbhorgil, daughter 
to the king of Meath, and though she had been for 
some time married to O'Kuark, Prince of Breffni, yet 
it could not restrain his passion. They carried on a 
private correspondence, and she informed him that 
O'Ruark intended soon to go on a pilgrimage, (an act 
of piety frequent in these days), and conjured him to 


embrace that opportunity of conveying her from a 
husband she detested to a lover she adored. Mac 
Murchad too punctually obeyed the summons, and 
had the lady conveyed to his capital of Ferns." The 
monarch Eoderick espoused the cause of O'Euark, 
while Mac Murchad fled to England, and obtained the 
assistance of Henry II,, and hence the invasion of 
Ireland by the English. On this occurrence Giraldus 
Cambrensis remarks, " Such is the variable and fickle 
nature of women, by whom all mischiefs in the world 
(for the most part) do happen and come, as may appear 
by Marcus Antonius, and by the destruction of 

Our readers will excuse the introduction here of 
the beautiful lines of our national poet, " The Song of 
O'Euark," where the Prince of Brefney laments the 
infidelity of his wife Dervorgail, by whom this 
"church of the nuns" at Clonmacnoise, was thus 
finished more than seven centuries since ; and where 
he predicts the misfortunes to fall on his country in 
consequence : - 


The valley lay smiling before me, 

Where lately I left her behind ; 
Yet I trembled, and something hung o'er me 

That saddened the joy of my mind. 
I look'd for the lamp which, she told me, 

Should shine, when her pilgrim return'd 
But, though darkness began to infold me, 

No lamp from the battlements burn'd. 


I flew to her chamber 'twas lonely, 

As if the lov'd tenant lay dead ; 
Ah, would it were death, and death only ! 

But no, the young false one had fled. 
And there hung the lute that could soften 

My very worst pains into bliss, 
While the hand that had wak'd it so often 

Now throbb'd to a proud rival's kiss. 

There was a time, falsest of women ! 

When Breffni's good sword would have sought 
That man, thro' a million of foemen, 

Who dar'd but to wrong thee in thought / 
While now oh, degenerate daughter 

Of Erin, how fall'n is thy fame ! 
And thro' ages of bondage and slaughter, 

Our country shall bleed for thy shame. 

Already the curse is upon her, 

And strangers her valleys profane ; 
They come to divide to dishonour, 

And tyrants they long will remain. 
But onward !> the green banner rearing, 

Go, flesh every sword to the hilt ; 
On our side is Virtue and Erin, 

On theirs is the Saxon and Guilt. 

It would be idle, and tend to no useful result, to 
speculate here as to what might now be the condition 
of Ireland, had Dervorgilla never erred. It is certain, 
however, that every Irishman should feel a deep 
interest in the preservation of relics of those long past 
times, and memorials of one who then acted such an 
important part in determining the future lot of his 
oountry. The more valuable are these relics as land- 


marks in our history, or otherwise, so should we feel 
the more indebted to those by whose praiseworthy 
exertions they are preserved. Such of our readers as 
have been at Clonmacnoise in late years, must have 
noticed the state of preservation the ecclesiastical 
remains there are now in, and surely they have 
admired, the beautifully carved Hiberno-Komanesque 
doorway, and fine chancel arch, of the " church of the 
nuns." They will, therefore, be surprised to hear, 
that when Harris's Ware was published more than 
130 years ago, only a portion of this chancel arch as 
now seen, was standing ; while for upwards of thirty 
years past, there was nothing to be seen until lately, 
of the beautiful carved doorway, save an open in the 
wall. It is fortunate, however, that these elegantly 
finished, but fallen materials, were then lying safe and 
unheeded in grass covered heaps, beneath the places 
they had so long adorned. Even Mr. Seward in his 
Topographia Hibernica, published nearly a century ago, 
states as to Clonmacnoise, that "the churches, epis- 
copal palace and other buildings, have been suffered 
to decay, being at present little better than a heap of 
ruins, entombing a number of the sepulchres of the 
nobility and bishops." 

For the present state of preservation of the remains 
at .Clonmacnoise so different from heretofore ; with 
the " nuns' church" of the lady Dervorgail, risen, as 
it were, phoenix like, from destruction ; Irishmen are 
indebted to the " Historical and Archaeological 
Association of Ireland," and the exertions of the 


Rev. James Graves, their honorary secretary, zealously 
aided by the Rev. Charles Vignoles, rector of Clon- 
macnoise. These reverend gentlemen, by judicious 
renovations and repairs on the crumbling ruins, and 
by collecting into a place of safety on the spot, the 
interesting monumental stones and sepulchral slabs, 
which were scattered there, have rescued from 
destruction, and further dilapidation, these interesting 
memorials of long past times, of which all Irishmen 
should be proud. For his own part, it is with feelings 
of pride and pleasure, the writer of this work mentions 
the fjact of his having been elected a life member of 
the learned " Historical and Archaeological Associa- 
tion of Ireland," in acknowledgment of his humble 
exertions in assisting to preserve what yet remains, of 
the once renowned, and still venerable and interesting, 


No. 1. 


" THIS Indenture made the 8th. day of Marche, anno 
Domini 1576 betwyxte Sir Henry Sidney Knt. lorde 
Deputy of Ireland, for and in behalfe of the Queenes 
most excellent Ma tie of thone parte ; and Sir "William 
O'Kerroll of Lemyvanan in the countrie called Elye 
O'Kerroll and now to be made parcell of the King's 
Countie; Mcholl M'Gilfoil: wen M 'Gilfbil; William 
O'Dowyn; Eory M'Oney O'Kerroll ; Eory M'Callogh 
O'Kerroll ; Gaven O'Eewrdane ; Dermott M'Gillane- 
newe ; Donogh M^Teig ; William O'Banane ; Teige 
M'Shane O'Kerroll; Dermott O'Towgher; Callough 
M'Donogh O'Kerroll ; Cusell M'Shane Oge ; Donogh 
M'Hugh ; Donoghy O'Dolloghane ; Donogh M'Cor- 
crane ; Shane O'Langane ; Teige M'Donell ; Donogh 
O'Trehie ; Teige O'Heggane ; Gillemew M'Heggane ; 
Tirlogh M'Eorie ; Teige liaghe ; Donough Oge 
O'Dowlye ; Donogh M'Eorie ; Shane M'Donogh ; 
Teige O'Conell; William M'Teige; Eory M^Greamon; 
Teige M'Eedmond; Gilpatrike M'Morogh; Caher 
O'Langane ; Donell M'Eedmond ; Shane M'DoneU ; 
Shane O'Scolle ; Tirloghe O'Doyne ; in the said 
countrie, freeholders, of the other part; Witnesseth 
that the said Sir William and the rest above named, 
do covenant agree and condescend to and with the 
said lorde Deputy, to surrender and give up in the 


Queenes most Honorable Courte of Chauncerie of 
Ireland, all such manors, castells, lands, tenements, 
rents, revercons, and all other hereditaments that they 
and everie of them have within the said countrie called 
Elye O'Karrell. And the said lorde Deputy doe 
promise and graunte that the same shall be by letters 
pattents, given back to the said Sir William and 
theires males of his bodi y lawfullie begotten and to be 
begotten ; and for lacke of suche to John O'Kerroll, 
his eldest base son, and the heires males of his bodie 
lawfullie begotten or to be begotten ; and for lacke of 
such issue to Teige O'Kerroll, another base son of said 
Sir William r and theires males of his bodi, lawfully 
begotten and to be begotten ; and for lacke of such 
issue to Calloghe O'Kerroll, a third base son of said 
Sir William and theires males of his bodi, lawfullie 
begotten and to be begotten ; and for lack of such 
issue to Donoghe O'Kerroll, a further base son of said 
&ir William, and the heires males of his bodie lawfullie 
begotten and to begotten ; and for want of such issue 
to Donoghe Eeoghe O'Kerroll, brother to said Sir 
William, and the heirs males of his bodie lawfullie 
begotten and to be begotten. To have and to hold 
the said countrie, called Elyie O'Karrell, by two 
knights' fees in chiefe. And the said Sir William and 
the rest above named, to be wholie discharged from 
the Bonaght accustomed to be payed out of the said 
country, and all other cesses and ymposicons, other 
than the rents hereafter specified. 



No. 2. 



" This small terrytory or compas of grownde hath 
beene counted parcell of Monster, as belonginge to 
ye county of Tipperarye, but for that O'Carrell who 
is lo. of this cuntry and his ancestors would never 
yeeld to be of that cuntry as far that he and his 
father did allwaies consent to be vnder the Englesh 
go Vermont, viz., vnder the lieutenant of the King's 
County, and yeeldeth now by composition vnto her 
Maiestie ,100 per arm. and to be ordered by the 
Queenes lieute. of the King's County in all contro- 
versies so as yt is accounted parcell thereof, and so of 

" It bowndeth with Ossory and a part of the Qu. 
County to the south ; with Ormond to the west ; with 
de la Mac Coghan to the north; and with the mowntaine 
Slibown to the easte. It hath small piles of litle 
importance, the chief est whereof is Limwaddon." 


No. 3. 


Sir Thomas Button ; Sir Win. Sinclair, of Rosling ; 
Sir James Younge ; Mr. Laurence Parsons ; James 
Gibb, of Carrybor ; and Charles Dutton, son of Sir 
Thomas Dutton ; one thousand acres each. 

Eobert Gordon, son of Sir Robert Gordon ; Captain 
Arthur Blundell ; John Knock, Lord of Ranferly ; 
"Walter Leckye ; Captain Henry Stradford ; Robert 
Glendoning ; George Blundell, the younger ; William 
Drummond of Rathorden ; and Captain Arthur Forbes; 
six hundred acres each. 

William Carr; Robert Lindsay, son to Bernard 
Lindsay ; James Irwing, son to Sir William Irwing ; 
Lieut. Nicholas Fitton ; John Beere, "our late servant's 
son;" Lieut. Clarke; James Alexander; William 

Alexander ; Henry Stanes ; Edmond Medhopp ; 

Conrey, of Kelwood ; and Daniel Gookinge ; five hun- 
dred acres each. 

Captain John Pikeman ; Lieut. William Hamden ; 
Claude Hamilton ; Thomas Dalzell ; Lieut. Henry 
Fisher ; Lieut. Brent Moore ; and James Forrett ; 
four hundred acres each. 

Francis Edgeworth ; Patrick Hannal ; Nynian 
Herune; James Phelp; "Sergeant" Hodges; and 
Joseph Rodgers ; three hundred acres each. 

Ensign Thomas Prescott ; Robert Hannae ; William 



Terror; William Lermouth; James Lermouth; Thomas 
Deepupp ; John Marsh ; Bryan M'Connell, " footman 
to our son;" and Henry Piers, "soldier;" two 
hundred acres each. 

No. 4. 


Sir Francis Ackland, knight, Eobert Aharan, Francis 
Beaty, John Burras, William Beetenson, Clement Ben- 
field, James Blundell, Patrick Condon, Hugh O'Cro- 
keran 7 Brian M'Hugh Coghlan, William Carrotters, 
Donnell M'Farshees Carroll, Gilchrist 0' Carroll, Eory 
O'Dulhunty, Eory Ogle O'Dulhunty, Daniel Ogle 
O'Dulhunty, Joseph Evans, Edmund Fitzsymonds, 
Dermot Gavan, Denis Gothforth, James Green assigned 
to Henry Evans, Philip O'Glessame, Teige 0'Hogan r 
Dermot O'Hogan, Teige O'Herin, William O'Haghtir, 
John Hogan, Edward Hustler, Edward Hamsell, Oliver 
Humphry, Henry Hart r Eichard Irwin, Eobert Irwin, 
Jeremiah 'Kennedy, John Langton, Patrick Larre, 
Thomas Molloy, Dermot M 'Teige O'Magher, Francis 
Morley, John Murroghoe assigned to Alexander Prin, 
Stephen Mabbot, Brian O'Naughten, George Percy, 
Eichard Eose, Michael Eaghtor, William Eice, 
Eichard Eoose, Thomas Eoch, Philip Eidgeway, 
William Stockdale, Eobert Sweetman, Simon Simonson, 
Eobert Sheeply clerke, James Saul, Thomas Teigh and 
Philip Trady, Eichard Taylor, Eobert Trieve, John 
Trieve, William Walter, and Eichard Williams. 


No. 5. 


" SINCE I am at great charges in digginge and bring- 
inge of stones, wch I intend to have layed in the 
middest of the streete onely to serve for comon passage, 
Therefore it is the least that the inhabitants can doe 
to pave xii foote broade a well before theire houses as 
alsoe so longe and as fair as theire houses yards 
gardens or plotts doe reach and touch upon the streete, 
still carryinge the pavem*- twelve foote broade. 
This to bee done at the tennts charge both for stones 
gravell and workmanshipp. But the prent under- 
teiinte is to beare the charge thereof soe farr as his 
pte of the plott extends (if he bee able) by the judg- 
ment of the steward and constable, otherwise the chief 
tennte of the plott is to beare the whole charge and 
such chief tennte is to pave the wast land of his plott 
howsoever ; This worke to bee done by Whitsuntide 
next at the farthest as well beyond the bridge as whin 
the towne, and whosoever shall make default of his 
pte herein, shall be psented in the Court leete for the 
same and shall have a heavye aniciamt imposed upon 
him to bee leavyed of his goods by way of distres, and 
to bee imployed for the publige good of the towne 
according the discretion of the constables and church- 
wardens ; And if any take the stones provided by mee 
for the middle of the streete the constable or any of 
the surveyors may take his distresse for xii d ster. for 



evy such default, to bee imployed to the publique use 
of the towne : And if any pson cast any dunge 
rubbidge filth or sweepings into the forestreete and 
doe not cleanse the same and carry it cleane away evy 
Saturday, then the constable may distreyne every 
pson soe makinge default and leavy foure pence ster. 
upon him for evy such default and double the same 
weekely till the same bee cleansed. 
"Aug. 1626." 

No. 6. 


AFTER reciting the evils caused by having young 
women to "draw ale and beare" in Birr, this ordi- 
nance directs as follows : 

" Therefore I doe ordayne that henceforwards noe 
single woman other than hired servants for meate 
drinke and wages or clothes shall draw any ale or 
beare, or keepe vittling in this towne, uppon payne to 
bee sett in the stocks by the constable for 3 whole 
m'kett dayes, one after another, and those wch retaine 
suche. in their houses to paie xx di str. for each default, 
to bee levyed by the constable and Serjant Lewis 
Jones for repayring the church and bridg of this 
towne, and they are allso to banishe anny single woman 
out this towne that nowe or hereafter shalbe found 
wth childe (first setting such in stocks for xij houres 
for the terror and example of others). And if any 


tehnte in this towne shall hereafter receive any inmate 
or undertennte wthout the allowance of the constable 
or of my steward who are therein to take the advice 
of M'Calloughe FitzPatricke or Bob*- Tewe, or Rob*- 
Sweetman, or Phillipp Tradye, such receiver shall 
forfett xx d - ster. for each default to bee levyect and 
imployed as aforesaid. 

"xvij Decembris 1626." 

No. 7. 

THE YEAR 1627. 

" A BYELAWE for dwelling houses in Birr without 

" Ffor as much as it is scene by fearefull experience 
that many townes and villages have binn consumed 
by fire in divers pts of this realme and especially 
occasioned thorowe fires made without chimneys ; 
Therefore I doe ordeyne that if any tennte or under- 
tennte in my towne of Birr shall after Alhallowtide 
next kepe any fire whatsoev r eyther in dwellinge 
house or smithes forge or otherwise without having a 
stone chimney (if they bee tyed thereto by the tenor 
of theire leases, or els a forrest chimney wherein to 
make theire fires. And whosoev 1 " makes default herein 
shall bee banished from the towne whereof they are 
to take this notice and forewarninge at theire pills. 
" 7 Augusti 1627." 


No. 8. 


" ARTICLES of Agreement made and concluded upon, 
by and between the Eight Honourable the Lord 
General of Leinster, of the one part, and William 
Parsons, Governor of Birr, of the other part. Dated 
this 20th day of January 1642. 

" Imprimis. It is agreed upon, that the said 
Governor is to have six horses armed, besides his 
officers to attend himself, and all his horse, with their 
saddles and swords. 

11 Item. Six of his own muskets to be put into my 
Lord convoy's hands, and at his departure from the 
convoy to be surrendered unto him. 

" Item. The said Governor is to have the one-half 
of his own and his mother's money and plate, to be 
left with them, and the one-half of his brother Coote's 
money and plate, to be left to himself, and so all men 
and women in the house to have the one-half of their 
monies and plate to themselves, and the ladies, and 
the Governor and his wife, and Captain and his wife, 
having their own halves weighed to them, to pass with 
it unsearched ; and, if any other person that hath his 
half allotted to him shall be found with any more, he 
shall lose the benefit of his quarter. 

"Item. It is agreed, that the Lieutenant of his 
Horse, and Captain Coote, Ensign of the Foot, shall be 
left with the Lord- General as pledges, and that they 


all shall have safe convoy with Sir Robert Talbot, and 
some horse and foot to Maryborough, and from thence 
two pledges shall go with them to the Nasse, to wit, 
Captain Oliver Darcy and Lieutenant James Malone, 
who are to be safely conveyed from the Nasse to 
Ballygowan, and then their two pledges are to be 
safely sent to the Nasse. 

" Item. It is agreed, that the Governor and all 
the rest of the people shall have all their horses to 
their own use, and the General will issue his warrants 
to the country for .the furnishing of the Governor with 
twenty horses more to aid them in their carriages. 

" Item. It is agreed, that the Lady Philips and the 
Lady Parsons shall have to each of them two pair of 
sheets, and the Governor's lady and Captain Coote's 
lady shall have each of them two pair of sheets, and 
to each pair of sheets a pair of pillow beers, and all their 
clothes of linen and woollen, with their trunk and chest 
to carry them in, and two feather beds for his children, 
and the red bed that is laced with willow-coloured 
lace, with its furniture ; that the soldiers and all other 
of their people shall carry away with them all their 
wearing apparel, both linen and woollen, and their 
swords by their sides. 

" Item. I, the said Lord General, do bind myself 
to the true and honourable performance of all these 
articles, and the Governor is to give up the arms this 
night, saving those that the Governor is to have by 
virtue of his former articles, and to-morrow morning 
the Governor is to deliver up the keys of the gates 


for his Majesty's use to his lordship as he marches 
out of the gates, having taken out with him such 
things as are contained in the former articles, and no 
common soldier shall dare to come within the doors to 
frighten the ladies until they and the carriages be 
gone out. 

" Item. It is agreed, that the Governor and every 
other man shall have free liberty to carry away with 
them #11 their writings, evidences, books, papers, and 
manuscripts that they have. 

" Item. It is agreed, that the Governor and all 
others shall have free liberty to carry with them such 
provisions of meat and drink as shall serve them in 
their journey. 

" Item. It is agreed, that Sir Eobert Talbot shall 
see the division of the money and plate and the rest 
of the things contained in the articles, and that no 
soldier or other person shall dare to go into the 
Governor's house this night upon pain of being shot. 

" Item. It is agreed, that the Governor shall freely 
have two draught of oxen to draw his carriage, and 
his coach and horses, with their ladies, shall go freely 
unfrightened and unsearched. Given at the camp, 
this 20th day of January 1642. 


The following secret articles were at the same time 
executed by the Governor : 

" I do hereby promise my Lord General to use my 
best endeavours that I can to the Lord Justice and 



Council, that they will discharge the bodies of Nicholas 
Egan of Kath Coffey, and Catherine Preston, his wife, 
with her sister, a religious woman, the hopes of which 
enlargement hath encouraged his Lordship to give me 
so fair and honourable quarter. Given at the camp, 
this 20th January 1642. 


" And, for as much as Captain Oliver Darcy, by 
reason the indisposition of his body, being not able to 
travel, being formerly appointed one of the pledges 
for the safe conveying of the Governor to the Nasse, 
I am most willing to accept of Captain Pardis as a 
pledge in his place. 

" "Witness my hand, 

"War. PARSONS." 

No. 9. 


" ARTICLES of Agreement made and agreed upon by 
and between Colonel He war Oxburgh, and Lieut. - 
Colonel Kobert Grace, for and on his Majesty's (King 
James) behalf, on the one part, and Sir Laurence 
Parsons, Bart., as well on his own behalf, as of those 
other persons now with him in the Castle of Birr, for 
and touching the surrendering the Castle to his 
Majesty's use, the 20th day of February 1688. 

" Imprimis. It is agreed upon by and between the 


said parties, that the said Sir Laurence Parsons shall 
and will, immediately after perfection hereof, disperse 
and send home to their respective houses and habita- 
tions all the said persons so with him in the said 
Castle of Birr, and keep none therein but his own 
private family, and also receive into the Castle such 
number of men to be quartered therein for his Majesty, 
as the said Colonels Hewar Oxburgh and Eobert 
Grace shall think fit ; and the same continue therein 
till his Excellency commands to the contrary. 

" Secondly, item. It is further agreed upon between 
the said parties that all the said persons now in the 
Castle of Birr shall and may carry away and make 
use of all the goods and chatties which they have now 
in the said Castle, excepting only their horses, ammu- 
nition, and arms, which are to be disposed of to his 
Majesty's use and for his service, and excepting also 
the provisions and victuals they now have in the said 
Castle, which is intended for the use of the King's 
garrison, if the Lord Deputy will not, before the last 
day of this month, think fit to order the same to be 
restored to the right owners. 

" Thirdly, item. It is agreed on by and between 
the said parties that the said persons now in the 
Castle of Birr, with the said Laurence, shall have the 
full protection and benefit of the law, as well to pro- 
tect their persons from any violence, as to preserve 
and secure their goods to them, whilst they shall 
peaceably demean and behave themselves towards the 
king, his laws, and government, and that all the said 


persons shall be bound one for another before the said 
Colonel Hew Oxburgh to appear next assizes ; which 
recognizance the said Heward Oxburgh is to keep in 
his hands, and not to return to the assizes if the Lord 
Deputy will so order it ; and that, till his Excellency's 
pleasure is known touching the said provisions and 
victuals, the said Colonel Oxburgh is to give the 
owners of such provisions and victuals the one 
moiety thereof for their subsistence. In witness 
whereof, the said parties have to these presents inter- 
changeably set their hands and seals, the day and 
year first before written. 
" Sealed and delivered 

in presence of us, HEW OXBTJRGH (L.8.) 



P. MOOR." 

No. 11. 


Mr. John Philip's house, stable, cow-house, and 
other out-houses destroyed, and an orchard cut to the 
ground. Mr. Knight's two houses destroyed, his 
orchard cut, and his country house and the houses of 
several of his tenants, burned. Owen Bryan's house 
pulled down. The houses of Luke Archer, Eichard 
Jones, Jasper Hopkins, Teig Heaman, and Hew 
Dulhunty, burned. Nethercott's two houses in the 


town and one in the country, with a dairy, cow-house, 
stable, and other buildings, burned ; and an orchard 
cut down. The houses of Thomas Horton, Anthony 
Beg, John Molony, Teige Horan, William Page, and 
several undertenants ; as also those of Donogh Lowry 
and Michael Cantwell, burned. Two houses of Captain 
William Parsons (brother to Sir Laurence), burned ; 
and a tan-yard and an orchard destroyed. The 
house of Richard Archer, and at least six houses in 
Mill Lane, with Eobert Usher's house, burned. The 
houses of Sharpcott Nicholson, Marcus Archer, and 
Philip Moore, ruined ; and those of James Langton, 
Daniel Dunn, John Cavanagh, Teige Carroll, Eichard 
Hopkins, William Dunn, and Teige Corcoran, burned. 
Hugh Ball's house demolished; and the houses of 
Loughlan Murry, Margaret Barnwell, Eliza Hopkins, 
John Parry, Edmond Carroll, Thomas Lovel, Edmond 
Lowry, Daniel Eeardon, Charles Carroll, and James 
Grady ; with John Walplate's house and malt-house, and 
John Weelder or Laurence Beteridge's stable and 
several tenements, all burned. Several houses in Crincle, 
burned. The houses of John Sweetman and tenants 
at Ballinree, and of Christopher Hewitt and tenants, 
at Little Seffin, burned, and an orchard cut ; and the 
houses of Eichard Archer's tenants at Ballindara, 
likewise burned. The houses of Owen Hines and his 
tenants, and Darby Moore and his tenants, at Great 
Clonaghill, Great Seffin, and Derrinduff; and the 
houses of Thomas Burfields and tenants, at Great 
Clonaghill, including the castle, all burned ; as were 


likewise the houses of John Burris and his tenants, 
with outhouses, at Ballywilliam, where an orchard 
was also cut down. The houses of Joseph Smith, and 
Joseph Watkinsand tenants, at "Ballydown," burned, 
and an orchard cut. Houses of Eandal Knight and 
his tenants, at " Tullaghnaskeagh," and of Edmund 
Daly and his tenants, at Ballykelly, burned. The 
houses of Charles Molloy's tenants, at Boulinarrig, 
burned, and an orchard destroyed ; and Owen Carroll's 
houses at Derrinlough, also burned. The houses of 
William Deegan and tenants, at Ballyduff, and of 
John Dillon at Conspark ; James Cavanagh's house at 
Galrush ; Francis Pane's at Coloug and Ballinally, 
and John Connor's house at Newtown, all burned. 

No. 12. 


Frederick Aldridge, Maunsel Andrews, John 
Armstrong, Samuel Armstrong, Thomas St. George 
Armstrong, Colonel J. "W. Atkinson, Charles Baggot, 
Valentine Bennett, Thomas Bernard, "William Berwick. 
W. H. Birch, Sir B. Bloomfield, Bart., W. N. Briscoe. 
J. Brownrig, Eev. J. Burdett, Shaw Cartland, E. Cox, 
James Cox, J. A. Drought, James Dunn, Eobert 
Fraser, Abraham Fuller, J. E. Gamble, Eichard 
Grattan, Eev. Skelton Gresson, Simpson Haokplt, Eev. 
Thomas Hawkins, D.D., Thomas Hobbs ? G. A. 


Holmes, M. Kearney, Major Charles L'Estrange, 
Edmond L'Estrange, Colonel H. P. L'Estrange, Eobert 
Lauder, William Minchin, John Molloy. E. J. E. 
Mooney, Sandford Palmer, Thomas E. Pepper, John 
Percy, Thomas Powell, Eight Hon. Laurence Earl of 
Eosse, George Slator, Bernard Smith, Thomas Stannus, 
J. W. Tibeaudo, Frederick Thompson, Adam Tyrrell, 
H. P. Yaughan, Eichard "Warburton, B. B. Warbur- 
ton, B. Warburton, "William Wallace, John Wether elt, 
Charles White, and Corker Wright. 

No. 13. 



Nov. 21st, 1835. 

I have spoken to the Attorney- General about 
you, and represented the very efficient manner in which 
you conducted the Crown prosecutions at the sessions 
and the good results that have attended the appoint- 
ment of a local solicitor. He has desired me to tell 
you that he will appoint you as Local Crown Solicitor 
for the King's County, and in consequence of the 
experiment having answered so well in the King's 
County, it has been resolved on by Government to 
appoint local solicitors for prosecuting at the Quarter 


Sessions in every county in Ireland. I am very 
happy in having been enabled to effect this object for 
you, and remain, yours most faithfully, 




Send me by return of post or as soon as you can 
any amendments which you might think advisable of 
the present Civil Bill code, either in principle or 
details. To be useful do not delay. Faithfully 




No. 14. 



Earl of Eosse, Birr Castle. 

Lord Oxmantown, M.P. for the 
County, Birr Castle. 

Antisell, Thos., Esq., Sraduff. 

Barnes, Eev. Joseph, Derrinlough 

Bayly, John, Esq., New Grove. 

Berry, Chas., Esq., Dove Grove. 

Borrough, Col., Oxmantown PL 

Cassidy, John, Esq.,Streamstown 

Cassin, John, Esq., Oxmantown, 

Chad wick, Capt. Jas., Cumber- 
land Square. 

Chadwick, Lieut. Peter, H. P., 
Tipperary Militia, Cumberland 

Collins, Capt. Graves C., Cum- 
berland Square. 

Collins, Major, Cumberland Sq. 

Crawley, Lieutenant Thomas, 

H. P., 59th, Townsend St. 
"**Crotty, Eev. Michael, Main St. 
^Curtin, Eev. Peter, Main Street. 

Devoy, Thomas, Esq., Cumber- 
land Square. 

Downes, Eev. Abraham, Eector, 

Castle Street. 

'Drought, Fran., Esq., Croghan 
House. - 

-Drought, John, Esq., Whigs- 

Ferny hough, Eobert, Esq., Ox- 

mantown Place. --" Stoney, George, Esq., Oakly Park 

Groom, Charles, Esq., Cumber- Synge, Edward, Esq., Syngefield. 
land Square. Synge, Eev. Francis, Syngefield. 

- Hackett, Simpson, Esq., Eivers- Walsh, Jonathan, Esq., Walsh 
town. Park. 

Hackett, Wm., Esq., Prospect. 

Heenan, Wm.. Esq., William St. 

Hobbs, Henry, Esq., Millbrook. 

Holmes, Major George W., Ox- 
mantown Place. 

Kearney, Michael, Esq., Kear- 
ney ville. 

Kearney, Eichard, Esq., Cum- 
berland Square. 

Meagher, Eev. Phillip, Con- 
naught Street. 

Mellsop, John, Esq., Seneschal 
of the Manor Court, Townsend 

Minchin, Falkiner, Esq., Oxman- 
town Place. 

Mitchell, Captain, Andrew. 

Mitchell, Lieutenant Eobert, H. 
P., 28th, Compton's Eow. 

Molloy, Mrs., Oxmantown Place. 

Palmer, John, Esq., Springfield. 

Palmer, Mrs., Cumberland St. 

Parsons, Eev. Wm., Tullanisky 

Parsons, Thomas C., Esq., Bar- 
rister, Tullanisky Park. 

Eichardsoh, Captain Arthur, H. 
P., Cumberland Square. 

Eobinson, Arthur, Esq., Cum- 
berland Square. 

Smith, John, Esq., High Park. 

Smith, Miss, Cumberland Street. 



Warburton, B. B., Esq., Birr- 


Wetherelt, John, Esq., Cumber- 
land Street. 
White, Mrs., The Green. 

Woods, Captain Richard, Wil- 
liam Street. 

Woods, Thomas, Esq., Mount 

Wray, Major, Wray Mount. 



Kelly, Patrick (English), Castle 

M'Dono, Laurence (Classical), 
William Street. 

Nevin, Patrick (English), Con~ 
naught Street. 

Shields, John (English), Castle- 


Read, John, Main Street. 
Usher, Noble L., Main Street. ' 
Woods, Thomas (to Fever Hos- 
pital and Dispensary), Duke 


Abbott, John, Cumberland St. 
Cooke, Thos. L., Cumberland St. 
Hobart, W. L., Walcott. 
Little,' George, Cumberland St. 
Mitchell, George, The Green. 


Connolly, James, Main Street. 
Hemsworth, Denton, Cumber- 
land Street. 
Shannon, Daniel, Bridge Street. 


Bergin, Wm., Main Street. 
Coates, John, Main Street. 
Dignan, Christopher, Castle St. 
Miller, Thos., Main Street. 

Boot and Shoe Makers. 
Compton, John, Moorpark St. 
Treacy, Simon, Main Street. 

Brewers and Distillers. 

Hackett, Michael, Moorpark St. 
Hackett, Robert, Moorpark St. 
Robinson, Robert, Castle Street. 
Robinson, Arthur, Castle Street. 

Carpenters and Builders. 

Ryan, William, The Green. 
Walsh, George, The Green. 
Walsh, John, The Green. 
Warren, Edward, Castle Street. 

Coghlan, William. 


M'Cumley, Catherine, Main St. 
Murphy, Mary, Main Street. 
Sylvester, Anne, Duke Street. 
Sylvester, Thomas, Main Street. 

i Cutlers. 

Hawksley, John, Connaught St. 
Read, Hiram, Main Street. 

Earthenware Dealers. 

Blake, Peter, Main Street. 
D'Arcy, William, Main Street. 
Simmons, John, Main Street. 




D'Arcy, William, Main Street. 
Egan, John, Main Street. 
Kennedy, Body, Main Street. 
Kingston, John, Main Street. 
Miller, Thomas, Main Street. 
O'Brien, James, Main Street. 
Smith, Mary, Castle Street. 
Wallis, William, Main Street. 


Coghlan, James, Parson's Arms, 

Main Street. 
Dooley, George, King's Arms, 

Cumberland Square. 


Corcoran, Jeremiah, Main Street. 
Fayle, William, Main Street. 

Linen Drapers. 

Anglesey, Thomas, Main Street. 
Carroll, Patrick, Main Street. 
Crawley, G-eorge, Main Street. 
Crawley, Joseph, Main Street. 
Davis, Thomas, Main Street. 
Egan, John, Main Street. 
Fitzpatrick, Catherine, Main St. 
Kennedy, Body, Main Street. ^ 
Kingston, John, Main Street. 
Meade, Rebecca and Son, Main 


Reynolds, Patrick, Main Street. 
Woods, Richard, Duke Street. , 
Woods, Robert and Stephen, 

Duke Street. 


Heenan, John, M.D., William 

Kelly, Hubert, M.D., Cumber- 
land Street. 

Printer and Stationer. 
-Legge, Thomas, Duke Street. 


Brown, Robert, The Bridge. 
Brown, William (Cherry Tree), 

The Green. 
Carey, Edw. (Crown & Anchor), 

Main Street. 

Coghlan, Joseph, The Bridge. 
Coghlan, Patk. (Cars & Horses), 

Main Street. 

Dennison, Edward, Main Street. 
Dunne, Daniel, Market Square. 
Egan, P. (Red Cow), The Green. 
Egan, Thomas, Main Street. 
Finlay, Mich. (Swan), Main St. 
Forster, John, Main Street. 
Howard, Robert, Main Street. 
Kilkeary, Edward (Fighting 

Cocks), The Bridge. 
Lantry, Patrick, Main Street. 
Larkin, Patrick (Plough), Main 


Lee, William, Main Street. 
Lester, John, Market Square. 
Mannion, Charles, Main Street. 
Martin, Thomas (Red Cow), 

The Green. 

Molloy, Michael (Plough), Con- 
naught Street. 
Morgan, Frances (Red Lion), 

Main Street. 

Murray, Anne, Main Street. 
O'Reilly, Edward, Main Street. 
Parnell, Thomas, Connaught St. 
Read, John (Black Lion), Duke 

Read, Robert (Duke of York), 

Townsend Street. 
Sharpe, George, Market Square. 
Waters, Patrick, Main Street. 


Fallon, James, Main Street. 
Hackett, James, Main Street. 
Johnson, Charles, Duke Street. 




Clifford, Wm. R. N., Cumber- 
land Street- 
Waters, Thomas, Oxmantown 

Wilkinson, Wm., Duke Street. 


Bourke, Patrick, Graveyard St. 
Brown, William, Back Lane. 
Drew, Michael, Market Square. 
Gallagher, James, Main Street. 
M'Cormick, John, Church Lane. 

Tallow Chandlers. 
Blake, John, Market Square. 
Miller, John, Main Street. 


Hart, Edward, The Bridge. 
Keenahan, Edward, The Bridge. 

Watch and Clock Makers. 

Banko, John, Cumberland St. 
Lynn, Michael, Cumberland Sq. 
Morgan, George, Main Street. 
Ryall, George, Main Street. 

Wool Combers. 

Galvin, John, Main Street. 
"Hackett, Thomas, Graveyard St. 
Madden, Wm., Market Square. 


Ashfield, James, Gunsmith, Con- 
naught Street. 

Carroll, William, Silversmith, 
Castle Street. 

Dooly, Patrick, Cabinet Maker, 
Duke Street. 

Elliott, George, Dyer, Moorpark 

Legge, Thomas, Coroner, and 
Secretary to the Grand Jury. 

Meade, Robert, Merchant, Cum- 
berland Street. 

Murphy, J., Haberdasher, Main 

-Read, Wm., Timber Merchant, 
The Green. 

Smallman, Thos., Hatter, Duke 

Winter, Robert, Leather Seller, 
Main Street. 

No. 15. 



Acres, Adam, Esq., Mill Park. 
Acres, Thomas, Esq. 
Bannan, Rev. Timothy. 
Birch, Geo., Esq., Mount Inchia. 
Birch, John, Esq., Birch Grove. 
Birch, Timothy, Esq. 

Birch, William Henry, Esq., 

Birch Grove. 
Bridge, Mrs., Ashbury. 
Buckley, Wm. , Esq. Hillsborough 
Canter, Joseph, Esq. , Ann Grove. 
Chetwyn, Captain, Dungar. 




Cockrane, Captain. 

Cox, Hopton Butler, Esq., 
Laurel Hill. 

Darby, John, Esq., Leap Castle. 

Dudley, Shelton, Esq., Mount 
Dudley. i 

Evans, Win., Esq.,Dungar Park. 

Freeman, Francis, Esq., Sum- 
mer Hill. 

Goulding, William, Esq., Mall. 

Hamilton, Rev. John. 

Harding, Henry, Esq., Grange. 

Harding, Samuel, Esq. 

Harding, Wm., Esq. 

Hart, Charles, Esq., Tinderry. 

Head, Henry, Esq., Clonlisk. 

Hurst, George, Esq.. Fancraft. 

Hutchinson, Captain, Timoney 

Hutchinson, Wm. Henry, Esq., 
Rock Forest. 

Jackson, Peter, Esq., Inane. 
. Kelly, Rev. John. 
^K Kenedy, Rev. O'Kenedy. 

L'Estrange, Rev. Thomas, rector, 

Glebe House. 
Lloyd, Colonel, Gloster. 
Lloyd, J., Esq., Lowland House. 
Minuet, William, Esq.,Cloughan. 
O'Shaunessey, Rev. James, P.P. 
Palmer, Sandford, Esq. 
Palmer, Thos., Esq., Glana- 

Prettie, Hon. F. A., M.P., Cor- 


Sheane, Arthur Thos., Esq. 
Smith, Captain, Mount Butler. 
Smith, John, Esq., Anneville. 
Smith, Joshua, Esq., Drum Hill. 
Smith, Patten, Esq., Verdant 


Smith, Wm., Esq., Racket HaU. 
Stewart, Rev. Samuel Henry. 
Stuart, Lieutenant. 
Taylor, General, Mount Eaton. 
Yaughan, Wm. P., Esq., Golden 

Wood, Rev. Samuel, Mall. 



O'Donnell, Edw. (Gentlemen's 

Stewart, Rev. Samuel (Gentle- 
men's Day), Castle Street. 

Wood, Rev. Samuel 

and Day for Ladies), Mall. 



Cathcart, Rolleston N. 

Cox, Samuel, Mall. 

Maxwell, Albert, Glenalbert. 

Talbot Samuel, Main Street. 
(Boardmg""Talbot, Leece (Commissioner of 
Affidavits, Master Extraordi- 
nary for Chancery, and Re- 
ceiverof SpecialBail), MainSt. 

Delany, Thomas, Main Street. 

Downer, William Henry (and 
manufacturing chemist), New 
Medical Hall, Main Street. 

Powell, Mrs., Main Street. 


Acres, Robert (and miller), Main 


Egan, Stephen, Cottage. 
Jackson, Edward, Main Street. 



Maher, Timothy, Castle Street. 

M'Gennis, , Main Street. 

M'Q-ennis, Win., Main Street. 
O'Lery, Elizabeth, Main Street. 
Wood, Moses, Castle Street. 


Cleary, John, Main Street. 
Eggers, Paul (and Printer), 
Castle Street. 

Boot and Shoe Makers. 
Brierley , Srimpton, Castle Street. 
Curtis, Daniel, Castle Street. 
Dann, John, Main Street. 
Dann, Jonathan, Main Street. 
Dwyer, James, Main Street. 
wv^Evans, James, Main Street. 
V ' Gilfoil, Daniel, Abbey Street. 
Kennedy, William, Main Street. 


Birch & Co. (and Distillers). 
Egan, Stephen. 

M'Donall, John. 
Phelan, William, Rosemary St. 

Cabinet Maker. 
Lynham, Matthew, Main Street. 

Higgins, John, Castle Street. 

Earthenware Dealers. 
Delaney, John, I/merick Street. 
Kirwin, Patrick, Rosemary St. 
O'Lery, Elizabeth, Main Street. 
Lynnan, Matthew, Main Street. 


Fawcett, George, Main Street. 
M'Gennis, William, Main Street. 
Woodlock, John, Main Street. 


Cleary, John, Main Street. 
Fawoett, George, Main Street. 

M'Gennis, William, Main St. 
Richardson, Robert, Castle St. 
Whitten, Anne, Main Street. 

Inns and Hotels. 

Brown, William. 

Smallman, Isaac (White Hart). 

Iron Merchant. 

Dudley, Francis, Castle Street. 

Comerford, James, Main Street. 
Dudley, Francis (and Trimming 

and Fancy Warehouse), Castle 


Evans, Richard, Main Street. 
Tracey, Michael, Rosemary St. 

Leather Sellers. 

Carroll, Michael, Main Street. 
Dann, John, Main Street. 
Jackson, William, Main Street. 
Smallman, Thomas, Mall. 
Tracey, John, Limerick Street. 

Linen Drapers. 

Fawcett, George, Main Street. 
Palmer, Francis, Main Street. 
Reynolds, Nicholas, Main St. 
Rhodes, William, Main Street. 
Richardson, Robert, Castle St. 
Ryan, James, Main Street. 
"fTalbot, Leece, Main Street. 


Molloy, Richard Mason (land- 
scape, figure, and architect), 
Castle Street. 

Painters and Glaziers. 
M'Donnell, Andrew, Main St. 
Smallman, William, Castle St. 

Physicians and Surgeon*. 
Dancer, Richard. 
Kingsley, William. 




Bannan, Edward, Rosemary St. 
Benn, Percy, Limerick Street. 
Bowen, Thomas, Limerick St. 
Brown, Nicholas, Main Street. 
Burgin, James, Main Street. 
Burgin, Martin, Limerick St. 
Burgin, Nicholas, Eosemary St. 
Burgin, Patrick (and Carpenter), 

Castle Street. 

Burke, Mary, Eosemary Street. 
Carroll, William (and Mason), 

Limerick Street. 
Davey, Mary, Eosemary Street. 
England, John, Main Street. 
Faflon, John, Castle Street. 
Feehan, Michael (Beef Steak 

Tavern), Castle Street. 
Ghiynan, Daniel, Eosemary St. 
Harvey, Patrick, Bridge. 
Higgins, Peter, Limerick Street. 
Keeshan, James, Eosemary St. 
Kelly, Hugh, Castle Street. 
Kelly, John, Main Street. 
Kinnah, William, Limerick St. 
Mailer, Df nis, Eosemary Street. 
Maher, Timothy. 
Maher, William, Main St. 
M -Clean, James, Castle Street. 
M'Gennis, John, Main Street. 
O'Brien, Eliza, Eosemary St. 
Phelan, James, Eosemary St. 
Phelan, Thomas, Castle Street. 
Snow, Michael, Main Street. 
Walsh, Edward, Eosemary St. 

t Saddlers. 

Evans, William, Main Street. 
Large, Henry, Castle Street. 
Wood, Morris, Castle Street. 


Abbott, William, Mall. 
Hendy, Thomas, Grove Street. 
Maher, Cornelius, Grove Street. 
Smith, Charles, Eosemary St. 

Tallow Chandlers. 
Crampton, Eichard, Main Street. 
Jackson, Edward, Main Street. 
Jackson, George, Eosemary St. 
Smallman, William, Castle St. 
Talbot, John, Main Street. 


Carroll, Michael, Main Street. 
Smallman, Thomas, Mall. 
Timber Merchants. 
Dudley, Francis, Castle Street. 
Marshall, Samuel, Eosemary St. 
Tracey, Michael, Eosemary 

Feehan, Kierney (manufacturer), 

Main Street. 

Woodlock, William (manufac- 
turer), Main Street. 

Wine and Spirit Dealers. 
Fawcett, George, Main Street. 
M'Gennis, John, Main Street. 
M'Gennis, William, Main Street. 
Palmer, Francis, Main Street. 
Woodlock, Patrick, Main Street. 

Woollen Manufacturers. 

Buckley, Henry, Hillsborough 

Carroll, Joseph, Eosemary St. 

Grotty, Thomas, Main Street. 

Hayes, G. (and Stuff), Castle St. 

Malone, Peter, Main Street. 

Ehodes, William, Main Street. 

Brown, William, Watch Maker, 
Castle Street. 

Crawford, Hugh, Brazier, Eose- 
mary Street. 

Goulding, James, Smith. 

Lynch, Jonathan, Gun Maker, 

O'Brien, A., Salt Manufacturer. 

Young, Ben., Stamp Distributer. 



No. 16. 



Blakeley, Mrs. * 

Buchanan, Rodolphus, Esq. 

Drought, Robert, Esq., Ridge- 

Fitzsimons, Nicholas, Esq., Cas- 

Flanagan, Simon, Esq. 

Gaynon, Peter F., Esq. 
'Hobbs, George, Esq. 

Hobbs, Capt. Thus, Greenhills. 

Lattimore, Noble, Ensign 9th 

Lynch, Rev. Walter. 
Magauly, Countess, Temora. 
Mitchell, Adam, Esq., Barnaby. 
Molloy, John, Esq. 
Parker, John, Esq., Collector of 

Land Tax, Ballyboy. 
Salmon, Lieut. Henry, 10th 

Regt. Foot, H.P. 
-f Stoney, Andrew, Esq. Set 
Whitneld, Lieut. Wm. 62n 

Regt. Foot, H.P. 


Professional Gentlemen. 

Haslam, Drought, Surgeon. 
Haslam, John, Attorney. 

Shopkeepers and Traders. 

Deehan, John, Linen Draper. 
Forster, Thomas, Miller. 
Garrett, Jas., Tallow Chandler. 
Grady, John, Linen Draper. 
Langton, Mary Ann, Grocer. 

Mahon, Daniel, Grocer. 
M 'Donald, John, Grocer. 
Molloy, Patrick, Linen Draper. 
Mooney, James, Baker. 
Murray, John, Baker. 


Burriss, Benjamin. 
Gaynon, Mary Ann, Hotel. 
M'Cormick, Thomas. 
M 'Redmond, Thomas. 



No. 17. 



Farrell, Eichard, Esq. 

Fayle, Disney, Esq. 

Goff, Mrs. 

Hamilton, Eev. Edward. 

Kelly, John, Esq. 

Kelly, Patrick, Esq. 

Lucas, Ben., Esq., Mount Lucas. 

M'Gann,Wm.H., Esq., Cloneral. 

O'Eeilly, Eev. Mathew. 

Eotherham, Mrs. 

Scully, William, Esq. 

Shaw, Sylvester, Esq. 

Smith, B. D., Esq., Forth Castle. 

Stephens, Peter, Esq. 

Wade, Thomas, Esq. 


Bardin, James, Baker. 
Dean, John, Tallow Chandler. 
Denis, Edward, Apothecary. 
Donolan, James, Watch and 

Clock Maker. 
Fitzpatrick, Mary, Miller. 
Gerraghty, Mary, Grocer. 
Grange, Davis, Tallow Chandler. 
Hulbert, George, Collector of 

Canal Tolls. 
Jackson, Joseph, Grocer and 

Johnston, John, Grocer and 


Kiernan, Eich., Woollen Draper. 
Mullen, James, Baker. 
Eyan, Deborah, Linen Draper. 
Scully, Owen, Grocer. 

Simpson, Thomas, Governor of 

the Gaol. 
Taylor, Thomas, Master of the 

Free School. 
Whitfield, Thomas, Tanner and 

Tallow Chandler. 


Byrne, Hester. 
Crouly, Eliza. 
Dyer, Edward. 
Egan, Bartholomew. 
Kirwin, John. 
Lynch, Philip. 
M'Owen, William. 
Mullen, Catherine. 
Murphy, Martha, Innkeeper. 
Odium, Oliver. 


No. 18. 



Acres, Capt. Thos., Tullamore 

Armstrong, Miss, Castle View. 

Banks, Rev. Robt., Church St. 

Bayly, Thos. Lieut., H. P., 1st 
Regt. of Foot, Crow Street. 

Berry, Francis, Esq., Charleville 

Bidulph, Fran. H., Esq., Anna- 

Billing, Capt., "Windmill Street. 

Bridge, Win., Esq., High St. 

Briscoe, Wm. N., Esq., Bury Qy. 

Briscoe, Wm. T.,Esq., Screggan. 

Charlevilie, Earl, Charleville 

Cocks, Wm., Esq., High Street. 

Conroy, Edw., Esq., Barrack St. 

Conroy, John, Esq., Killiegh. 

Crawford, Jas., Esq., High St. 

Crows, Misses, Crow Street. 

Curtis, Robt., Esq., Barrack St. 

Curtis, William, Esq., Cluna. 

Drought, John, Esq., Charle- 
ville Street. 

Edwards, Mrs., High Street. 

Freer, Thomas, Lieut., H. P., 
Church Street. 

Fuller, Abraham, Esq., Charle- 
ville Street. 

Gouldsbury, Rev. Ponsonby, St. 

Green, Sainl., Esq., Church St. 

Grier, Abraham, Esq., Commis- 
sioner for taking Affidavits, 
Barrack Street. 

Hamilton, Rev. Andrew, Church 

Hamilton, J., Esq., Church St. 

Handy, Fleming, Esq., Crow St. 

Handy, Win. Orm, Ormston. 

Hemsworth, Christopher, Lieut. 
H.P. Limerick Militia, Market 

Hutchinson, John, Esq., Sur- 
veyor of Excise, Store Street. 

Judge, John Chapman, Esq., 
High Street. 

Killaly, Mrs., High Street. 

Killett, Francis, Esq., Store St. 

King, John, Esq., Market Sq. 

King, Thomas, Esq., High St. 

Locke, Mrs., High Street. 

Loftus, Ed., Esq., Charleville St. 

Loftus, Mrs., Charleville Street. 

Malone, Richard, Esq., Palace 

Meredith, Rev. Jos., Barrack St. 

Mulock, Wm., Esq., Charleville 

Newton, Capt., Bury Quay. 

O'Brien, Miss, Rahan Lodge. 

O'Connor, Mrs., Mount Pleasant. 

0' Flanagan, Andrew, Esq., 
Windmill Street. 

O'Flanagan, James, Esq., Mar- 
ket Square. 

O'Ratferty, Rev. J., P.P., Chapel 

Pilkington, Edw., Esq., High St. 

St. Leger, Rev. Robt., Tullabeg. 

Slater, Mrs., High Street. 



Slater, Robt. B., Esq., Market 

Smith, Sir W. 0. (Judge) New- 

Stackpoole, Capt. John, Wind- 
mill Street. 

Stewart, Jas., Esq., Bury Quay. 

Tarleton, Capt., Fentor Lodge. 

Tarleton, J. W., Esq., Killiegh. 

Tullamore, Lord, Charleville 

Turpin, Eev.Wm. B., Brookville. 

Vaughan, Mrs., High Street. 

Walby, Samuel, Lieut., H.P., 
Royal Waggon Train, Crow 

Wallace, William, Esq., Charle- 
ville Street. 

Wilson, Mrs., High Street. 



Fitzgerald, T. and J. (Classical), 
High Street. 

Hutchinson, Wm. (Classical),. 
High Street. 

M'Donald, Mrs. (Ladies Board- 
ing), Charleville Street. 

Noland, Miss (Ladies Boarding), 
High Street. 


Dunn, Laverock S., Barrack St. 
Leech, Adam, Pound Street. 


Kennedy, George, Barrack St. 
Pierce, George, Market Square. 


Campbell, Peter, Church Street. 
Forbes, John Wm., Pound St. 
Hughes, Richard, Church St. 


Connolly, John, Chapel Lane. 
Doyle, William, High Street. 
Duggan, Thomas, High Street. 
O'Neille, Wm., Pound Street. 
Parsons, Charles, High Street. 
Whitehead, Mary, Barrack St. 

Boot and Shoe Makers. 
Duggan, Edward, Harbour St. 
M'Cormick, Bernard, Barrack St. 
.Ryan, John, Barrack Street. 

Boat Proprietors. 

Berry, Sterling and Francis, 
Canal Harbour. 


Deverell, Wm. (and Tanner), 

High Street. 
Manley, Joseph, Market Square. 

Coach Makers. 

Morgan, Andrew, Canal Harbour 
Shaddick, John, Store Street. 

Earthenware Dealers. 

Geoghegan, Eleanor, High St. 
Heeny, Bryan, High Street. 
Smith, Esther, Pound Street. 


Burgess, John (and Linen 

Draper), Harbour Street. 
Carroll, John, High Street. 
Clegg, John, Church Street. 
Deverell, Wm., Barrack Street. 



Hall, Wm., High Street. 
Jackson, Joseph (and Wine and 

Spirit Merchant), Pound St. 
Molloy, M. & A. (and Wine and 

Spirit Merchant), High St. 
.Ryan, William (and Wine and 

Spirit Merchant), High St. 
Ryan, James, High Street. 
Sterling, James, Church Street. 
Wade, Wm., Barrack Street. 

Hardware Dealers. 

Bryne, Michael (and Iron Foun- 
der), Pound Street. 
Molloy, Mary, High Street. 
Ridley, Francis, Pound Street. 


Morgan, Andrew (Grand Canal 
Hotel), Canal Harbour. 

Ridley, John (Charleville Arms),' 
Pound Street. 

Leather Sellers. 

Disney, James, Pound Street. 
Mulready, Michael, Barrack St. 
Rothery, Joseph, Pound Street. 

Linen Drapers. 

Cantwell, Edward, Pound St. 
Carroll, John, Pound Street. 
Nugent, James & Co., Pound St. 
Nugent, William, Harbour St. 
Wilson, Margaret, High Street. 


Belton, S. & A., High Street. 
Elcoate, Eliza (and Haberdasher) 
High Street. 


Boyce, Robert (and Surgeon), 

Market Square. 
Brereton, Joshua, High Street. 

Printer and Stationer. 
Willis, Richard, High Street. 


Brien, John, Pound Street. 
Brien, Mary Ann, Pound Street. 
Byrne, Patrick, Pound Street. 
Condron, Timothy, Pound St. 
Daly, John, Pound Street. 
Daly, Peter, Pound Street. 
Dooley, John, High Street. 
Dunn, Patrick, Barrack Street. 
Gray, Richard, Pound Street. 
Lane, Michael, High Street. 
M'Cbrmick, Peter, High Street. 
Melvin, John, Harbour Street. 
Noud, Wm., Harbour St. 
Quin, Patrick, Harbour Street. 
Roberts, James, High Street. 
Scully, Edward, Harbour Street. 
Stephens, John, Barrack Street. 
Walker, John, Pound Street. 
Whelahan, Richard, Harbour 


Hynes, Wm., Church Street. 
M'Loughlin, David, Market Sq. 

Tallow Chandlers. 

Deverell, Wm., Barrack Street. 
M'Mullen, John, High Street. 
Waters, Francis, Pound Street. 

Watch and Clock Makers. 

Benbow, Thos., Church Street. 
Coffey, Wm., Barrack Street. 

Woollen Drapers. 

Dillon, Edward, High Street. 
Gundy, William, Pound Street. 
Malone, Francis, Harbour St. 




Brunskill, Thomas, Brickmaker, 

High Street. 
Cunningham, Richard, Saddler 

and Harness Maker, Barrack 

Deane, John, Painter & Glazier, 

High Street. 

Fallon, John, Tobacco Manufac- 
turer, High Street. 
Forster, Rich., Cutler, Church 

Haslam, Robt., Hatter, Church 

M'Cord, Samuel, Gun Maker, 

Barrack Street. 

Manley, Thos., Tanner, High St. 

Manley, Winslow, Starch Manu- 
facturer, Church Street. 

M 'Mullen, Robt., Builder, High 

Murphy, Wm., Haberdasher, 
Barrack Street. 

Pentland, Henry, Distiller, 
Church Street. 

Pierce, Geo., Surgeon to the 
County Infirmary, Market Sq. 

Robinson, Wm., Builder, Char- 
leville Street. 

Sinnott, John, Silk Manufac- 
turer, Store Street. 

Woods, Christopher, Agent, 
Windmill Street. 

No. 19. 




Allen, Henry, Esq., Shenbally. 
Baldwin, Edward, Esq., Castle 

Bayly, Rev. Henry, Rector, 

Bayly, James, Esq., Fishing 


Bayly, John, Esq., Dilsboro'. 
Bayly, Peter, Esq., Shannonoah 
Bennett, John, Esq., Riverstone. 
Biggs, G. B., Esq., Belview. 
Bourne, William Henry, Esq., 


Brereton, Thos. , Esq. , Rathnates- 

Cantrell, John, Esq., Castle St. 
Cantrell, Robert Smith, Esq., 

Castle Street. 

Carroll, Mrs. Eliza, Castle St. 
Carroll, , Esq., Barrack St. 
Cashel, R., Esq., Bushfield. 
Cash el, R. P., Esq., Silvermines 


Cooper, , Esq., Barrack Street. 
Crawford, J., Esq., Ballintoher. 
Crawford, W. C., Esq., Rapla. 
D' Alton, Count, Gunanstowu. 
Dunally, Lord, Kilboy. - 
Falkiner, John, Esq., Prospect. 



Falkiner, Rev. Thomas, Curate, 

Featherstone, Eev. Cuthbert, 

Castle Street. 

Finch, George, Esq., Killolman. 
Fitzpatrick, Jas., Esq , Moyroe. 
Gason, Eichd. W., Esq., Her- 


Going, Thos., Esq., Traverston^ 
Harding, Jonathan, Esq., Her-. 

Harding, Wm., Esq., Hazel 


_Head, Eev. John, Bally van- 

Holmes, the Very Eev. Dean, 

Kilmore House. 
Jackson, George, Esq., Mount- 


Kennedy, Edw., Esq., Bantis. 
Laurence, Samuel, Esq., Castle 


Lewis, Minchin, Esq., Island 
. Baron. 

yr Meagher, Miss Amy, Castle St. 
tftf-'Meagher, Jas., Esq., Ballyanny. 
>> Minnet, Josi&li 

R"ev. FredT, Castle- 
O'Brien, Donatius, Esq., Tyone. 

O'Connor, Eev. Ambrose, P.P., 

Barrack Street. 
O'Meara, James, Esq., Barrack 

O'Meara, Morgan, Esq., Barrack 


Otway, Eev. J. S., Castle Otway. 
Pepper, Theo., Esq., Norwood. 
Poe, John, Esq., Solsboro'. 
Poe, Wm., Esq., Donny brook. 
Prendergast, , Esq., Peterfield. 
S[adliej/rhos. T 


Short, John, Esq., Camira. 
Short, J. B., Esq., Lismore. 
Smith, Aquilla, Esq., Castle St. 
Smith, Win., Esq., South Hill. 
Terry, Eev. Thos., P.O., Barrack 

Waller, Sir Eobt., Bart., Lisson 

Watson, George, Esq., Garret 


Watson, F ,Esq., Brook Watson. 
Wellington, James, Esq., Castle 


| Young, Francis, Esq., Shallee. 
Young, Henry, Esq., Armbrook 
Young, Eobt., Esq .^Canada. 



Dillon, O'Brien, Pound Street. 
Grace, John Egan, Pound Street. 
Kiernan, John and Francis, 


Langford, George, Silver Street. 
Lee, Edward, Castle Street. 
O'Brien, Fitzgerald, Castle St. 

O'Brien, John, Barrack Street. 
Power, Richard O'Shea, Castle 


Dempster, James (and Sur- 
geon), Castle Street. 
M'Keogh, Pierce, Castle Street. 



O'Leary, George, Castle Street. 
Quin, Neil (and Surgeon), Castle 

Sillcock, Isaac (Surgeon), Pound 



Dillon, Q-arrett, Pound Street. 
Harty, Michael (and Seedsman), 

Castle Street. 

Larkin, John White, Castle St. 
Toohey, Austin, Pound Street. 


Bull, John, Pound Street. 
Considine, Philip, Castle Street. 


Acres, James, Castle Street. 
Bryan, Ann, Castle Street. 
Hogan, Wm., Pound Street. 
Sweeney, James (and Flour 

Dealer), Barrack Street. 
Welsh, Andrew, Barrack St. 

Boot and Shoe Makers. 

Acres, Wm., Pound Street. 
Consedine, Bryan, Castle Street. 
Grace, Michael, Silver Street. 
Griffin, Michael (and Leather 

Cutter), Barrack Street. 
Harden, Nicholas (and Leather 

Cutter), Silver Street. 
Kennedy, James, Silver Street, 
Murray, Frederick, Pound St. 
Pnobinson, John, Castle Street. 
Ryan, John, Silver Street. 

Burr, Wm. & Co., Spout Eoad. 

Feather and Skin Dealers. 

Flannery, Daniel, Barrack St. 
Hanley, J., Castle Street. 

Flour and Meal Dealers. 

Brindley, John, Silver Street. 
Quirk, Timothy, Silver Street. 

Grocers and Spirit Dealers. 

Brien, Patk. (and Draper), Castle 

Coughlin, Edw. (and Draper), 

Castle Street. 

Cronin, David, Castle Street. 
Cunningham, John (and Draper), 

Castle Street. 

Fitzpatrick, James, Barrack St. 
Hill, John, Castle Street. 
Kennedy, John, Pound Street. 
Kennedy, Patk. (and Draper), 

Castle Street. 
M'Grath, James (and Hard- 

wareman), Barrack Street. 
M'Grath, John (and Draper), 

Castle Street. 
O'Brien, Daniel, Barrack Street. 


King's Arms, John Brundley, 
Castle Street. 

Iron and Deal Merchants. 

Burr, George (and Salt Manu- 
facturer), Barrack Street. 

Hemsworth, Christopher Wm. 
(and Coal), Castle Street. 

Leather Sellers. 

Hickey, Patrick, Pound Street. 
Murray, Michael, Pound Street. 



Linen Drapers. 

Abbott, Thos. Thompson, Castle 

Acheson, George, Castle Street. 

Corbett, Martin, Pound Street. 

Corbett, Wm., Castle Street. 
Coulahan, Michael, Barrack St. 
D'Arcy, John, Castle Street. 
D'Arcy, Patrick, Castle Street. 
Kennedy, Richd., Castle Street. 
O'Brien, Patrick, Castle Street. 
Spain, Michael, Castle Street. 
Spain, Rodolphus, Castle Street. 
Toohey, John, Pound Street. 


Nugent, Thos., Castle Street. 
Shaw, Michael, Castle Street. 


Andrew, John, Pound Street. 

Bartley, Patrick, Silver Street. 

Dunlay Michael, Pound Street. 

Dwyer, Michael, Pound Street. 

Flannery, Wm., Pound Street. 

Gleeson, B., Castle Street. 

Gleeson, Edward, Silver Street. 

Grace, Darby, Pound Street. 

Harding, Wm. (and Stone and 
Marble Mason), Barrack St. 

Haugh, Patrick, Castle Street. 

Heaney, Wm. (Stationer), Bar- 
rack Street. 

Henebry, Wm., Pound Street. 

Hogan, Michael, Castle Street. 

Kenna, John, Castle Street. 

Kennedy, John, Pound Street. 

O'Shaughnessy, Connor, Castle 

Ryan, Bridget, Barrack Street. 

Walsh, M'nrtin, Barrack Street. 

White, Michael, Castle Street. 


rAbbott, John, Castle Street. 
Acres, James, Castle Street. 
Leake, Edward Pearce, Castle 

Tallow Chandlers. 

Burke, John, Castle Street. 
Carroll, Ann, Barrack Street. 
Carroll, Ignatius, Barrack St. 
Cleary, John, Pound Street. 
Cleary, Patrick, Castle Street. 
Loughlin, John, Barrack Street. 
Spain, Wm., Pound Street. 


Hill, John, Castle Street. 
Kennedy, Patrick, Castle Street. 
Leake, Edward Pierce, Castle 


Hill, John, Castle Street. 
Kennedy, John, Pound Street. 

Wool Combers and Clothiers. 

Armstrong, Wm., Pound Street. 
Lewis. John (Dye Stuff Mer- 

oirant), Pound Street. 
Meara, Wm., Barrack Street. 


Cane, Patrick, Tea Dealer, Sta- 
tioner and Perfumer, Castle 

Clarke, Philip, Watch and Clock 
Maker, Castle Street. 

Cleary, Denis, Pawnbroker, 
Barrack Street. 

Dwyer, John, Dyer, Pound St. 



Evans, Robert, 
Castle Street. 

Ironmonger, ' Hany, Thomas, Parish Clerk, 
Barrack Street. 

Fletcher, Robert, Cabinetmaker 

and Upholsterer, 


King, Timothy, Catholic Parish 

Clerk, Pound Street. 
Pine, Thos., Whitesmith, Pound 


No. 20. 



Armstrong, Capt. Thomas St. 

George, Garry Castle House. 
Armstrong, Captain Andrew. 
Banko, James, Esq. 
Batt, Samuel, Esq. 
Bell, Allen Clerke, LL.D., Mas~ 

ter of the Royal School, Cuba 


Burdett, Rev. J., Glebe House. 
Costelloe, Loury, Esq. 
Gumming, Alexander, Esq. 
Daly, Arthur, Esq. 
Drought, Capt. Bortholomew. 
Enraght, Francis, Esq. 
Flattery, Daniel, Esq. 
Flattery, Ensign Bernard, H.P. 
Fleetwood, Thomas, Esq. 
Grant, James, Esq., Claremont. 

Harton, William, Esq. 
Hayes, John, Esq. 
Hemmings, Capt. Mathew. 
Hussey, Capt. Thomas. 
Kenny, Rev. John. 
Kenny, Laurence, Esq. 
Mould, James, Purveyor, H.P. 
Mulock, Win., Esq., Park. 
0' Moore, Colonel. 
Purifoy, Rev. Thomas. 
Smith, Joshua, Esq. 
Taylor, Mrs. 
Warburton, Richard, Lieut. 

King's County Militia, H.P. 
Whitley, Thomas, Esq. 
Woods, W., Lieut. 15th Regt. 

Foot, H.P. 


Professional Gentlemen. Shopkeepers and Traders. 

Charles, Cabinet- 

Bird, William S., Physician. 
Boyce, Robert, Surgeon. 
Burke, Richd. Walter, Attorney. 


Colgan, Joseph, Corn Merchant. 



Deehan, Thos., Linen Draper. 

Duffield, William, Baker. 

Duffy, John, Linen Draper. 

Dras, Thos., Boot and Shoe- 

Fallon, John, Grocer and Tobac- 

Forster, James, Tallow Chandler 

Glenn, Eliza, Linen Draper. 

Harton, John L., Miller. 

Hoare, Denis, Linen Draper. 

Hoy, John, Baker. 

Killeen, Thomas, Miller. 

Miller, David, Grocer. 

Miller, Thos., Revenue Officer. 

Miller, Thos., Weigh Master. 

Mitchell, James, Linen Draper. 

Molloy, Kiran, Brewer. 

Hoy Ian, Michael, Linen Draper. 

Mulhare, Daniel, Tailor. 

Mulock, Mary, Baker. 

Richardson, John, Tailor. 

Swiney, Benjamin, Baker. 

Treacy, Geo., Linen Draper. 

Walsh, Solomon, Tailor. 
Woods, Eichd., Tallow Chandler. 


Hearn, Simon. 

Mann, Edward, Harp Inn. 


Bennett, Thomas. 

Boyle, Patrick (and Grocer). 

Burke, Michael. 

Carroll, Ellen, Bird in Hand. 

Do! an, Thomas. 

Kelly, Garret, Red Lion. 

Killeen, Thomas. 


Fahy, John, Victualler. 
Fahy, John, and Molloy ,"Francis, 
Owners of the celebrated pas- 

sage boat known as 
Speed of Banagher." 





DA Cooke, Thomas Lalor 

995 The early history of the 

B55C6 town of Birr